The Olympic Bribery Scandal
The Peabody Awards have long championed courage, diligence and investigative zeal in local news reporting, and the work of Chris Vanocur and the staff of KTVX-TV News is particularly laudable. In November 1998, Vanocur and KTVX-TV uncovered the Olympic bribery scandal, having obtained a draft letter from the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. The letter contained a passage that proved that the college tuition of the daughter of an International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) member had been paid for by the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. Vanocur, the station’s chief political reporter, had been investigating the budget issues, land deals and potential conflicts of interest involved in Salt Lake’s Olympic bid since the awarding of the games to the city in 1996. The issue reached a worldwide fervor when the “smoking gun” document was made public by KTVX-TV. After seizing the evidence, Vanocur followed up with interviews with many of the principals involved, including an initial response from an I.O.C. spokesperson who characterized tuition payoffs as humanitarian aid to members of Third World nations. In the ensuing months, two Salt Lake Olympic Committee officials have resigned, and a number of I.O.C. members have been asked to step down as well. The impact of these investigations has been so profound that the I.O.C. is implementing major new ethics reform, while the U.S. Justice Department and Senate Commerce Committee are conducting in-depth investigations into the matter. For exposing the corruption that taints the “lords of the rings,” and that threatens the future of the Olympic movement, a Peabody to Chris Vanocur and KTVX-TV for The Olympic Bribery Scandal.