If you thought that corruption in sport was limited only to FIFA and football, think again.
The head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee has been jailed for an astonishing 30 years after his part in a high-level vote buying scam – that would see Rio de Janeiro handed the 2016 Games – was revealed.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman will now spend the next three decades behind bars for his part of a plot that saw the Brazilian Olympic Committee bribe voters into giving the nod to Rio as part of the host bidding process.
The 79-year-old Nuzman has been found guilty of corruption, criminal organisation and money laundering, plus a separate charge of tax evasion, and will now likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentencing will not be confirmed until the result of an appeal his heard.
Detailing his ruling, Judge Bretas revealed his belief that Nuzman was ‘one of the main responsibles [sic] for the promotion and the organisation of the criminal scheme, given his position in the Brazilian Olympic Committee and before international authorities.’
He also stated his assertion that the chief was the ‘leader’ of the vote rigging scheme, and ‘coordinated’ the action of a number of accomplices.
Suspicions emerged back in 2017 when 16 solid gold bars, believed to belong to Nuzman, were found in a safe deposit box in Geneva. The Brazilian’s net worth increased by 457% in less than a decade as Brazil’s Olympic head.
Other key figures in the Rio Olympic bid, including the Committee’s director-general of operations Leonardo Gryner, have been imprisoned, while the former governor of the Brazilian city, Sergio Cabral, is already in jail for a series of convictions – his part in the scheme will lead to him being re-sentenced.
Facing the Music
Cabral admitted to the judge that he and his cronies had paid $2 million (around £1.5 million) to secure six votes in the bidding process for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A further $500k was later paid in bribes in an attempt to secure three more votes from International Olympic Committee members, with the money allegedly coming from a local businessman, Arthur Soares, who Cabral claims owed him the cash in unpaid debts.
The quartet named above were believed to have joined forces in that bid to bribe a number of key figures within athletics, including Lamine Diack – the then president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) – and his son Papa Massata.
Diack has maintained his innocence throughout, however the courts did not agree with his assertions and he will now be sentenced – he too is already serving time after accepting bribes to cover up the Russian doping scandal. Papa Massata has been sentenced to five years in jail and fined £1 million.
Rio’s bid went on to be successful, of course, beating off competition from Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago to win the 2016 hosting rights. But it would take less than a year for a criminal investigation into the corruption to begin, after the French newspaper Le Monde – Diack Snr was living in France at the time – learned that at least three IOC officials had been bribed ahead of a key meeting in Copenhagen.