Olympic gold medalists Sergey Bubka, Alexander Popov deny alleged Rio vote-buying involvement

A former Brazilian state governor claimed in court that he paid $2 million to secure IOC votes for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics.

Sergey Bubka, an IOC executive board member, said Friday in a series of tweets that he rejected all the claims made against him were false.   -  Getty Images

The IOC will investigate allegations this week of vote-rigging that led to the 2016 Summer Games being awarded to Rio de Janeiro, claims that two former Olympic gold medalists who were implicated in the allegations strongly deny.

According to The Guardian, former Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral testified in court that he paid $2 million to Lamine Diack that the former head of the IAAF, international track and field's governing body, was to use to buy votes from among other IOC voters former Olympic pole vaulter Sergey Bubka and swimmer Alexander Popov.

Cabral recounted that Brazilian Olympic Committee president Arthur Nuzman assured him the vote-buying scheme would work because Diack had a history of corrupt behavior.

“I said, 'Nuzman, what are our guarantees here?' And he said, ‘Traditionally he sells four, five, six votes. There is a risk that we don’t get through to the second round."

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Cabral claims he authorized an initial payment of $1.5 million and a second of $500,000 after Diack guaranteed to deliver up to six votes.

Bubka, an IOC executive board member, said Friday in a series of tweets that he rejected "all the false claims made by the former Rio State governor," and that he was never contacted about his Rio vote. He also pointed out that Cabral has been sentenced to almost 200 years in jail for his part in a series of corruption scandals.


Popov, an IOC honorary member after having full membership from 2000-16, says that he is cooperating with the IOC's investigation though he didn't vote for Rio in any of the three rounds of balloting. He added that he was “extremely surprised at the appearance of such information with the illegal use of my name.”

"I did not participate in any negotiations and I am not familiar with the topics and with the people who are mentioned ... and have never had contact with them," Popov said in a statement (via The Associated Press).

Bubka, a Ukrainian who competed for the Soviet Union, won pole vault gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and held the world record for 30 years until 2014.

Popov, who competed for Russia, won the 50- and 100-meter freestyle titles at back-to-back Olympics, in 1992 in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta.

Their names have surfaced in the Rio vote-buying allegations in the wake of French authorities charging former Namibian Olympic silver medal sprinter Frankie Fredericks in connection with the vote-buying scheme, part of a wider investigation into Diack, the former IAAF chief, and his son, Papa Massata Diack, the disgraced former marketing agent for the IAAF, who both have been charged with money laudering and corruption.

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