(Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have refused to confirm media reports that former FIFA President Joao Havelange has resigned days before an ethics hearing into his conduct.
The head of soccer’s world governing body from 1974-98, Havelange was under an IOC investigation for his links with FIFA’s former marketing agency International Sport and Leisure (ISL).
“We intend to let the procedure take its correct course,” IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams told Reuters on Monday.
Adams refused to confirm whether or not the 95-year-old Brazilian, the IOC’s longest-serving member, had stepped down as the BBC reported Sunday.
The BBC said the IOC case to deem whether or not Havelange had violated IOC ethics rules was likely to be dropped.
ISL went bankrupt in 2001 with debts of around $300 million. A BBC Panorama television program alleged in 2010 that Havelange had accepted money from ISL for granting lucrative World Cup contracts.
Havelange, who joined the IOC in 1963, still enjoys considerable respect within the organization.
He was part of Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid to host the 2016 Olympics, urging his fellow IOC members in an emotional final address before the vote to come and celebrate his 100th birthday in Brazil.
Havelange is one of three IOC members, including world athletics boss Lamine Diack and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, to have been linked with the ISL affair.
The IOC’s executive board is due to meet later this week to discuss the ethics commission’s findings into the three members and announce sanctions if deemed necessary.
These could range from a temporary suspension to expulsion from the Olympic body.
The last IOC member to resign instead of facing expulsion was one-time presidential candidate Kim Un-yong, who stepped down in 2005.
The IOC has sought to crack down on corruption following the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics bribery scandal that led to four members being expelled and several others sanctioned.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann. Editing by Patrick Johnston