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Aussie official says expenses falsely claimed

Australian Olympic executive Kevan Gosper says supposed expenses of $11,000 by his family on a visit to Salt Lake City were falsely claimed by someone on the bid committee for the 2002 Winter Games.

Gosper said Monday he referred questions about the trip by his wife and two children in December 1993 to the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission.

He said he went to the ethics commission after being questioned about the expenses claims by a British journalist.

"The people being cited to me as having included my wife in these false claims have since been discredited and have left the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee employ and are in fact the subject of an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Games," Gosper said. "While regretting the slur on our reputation, we welcome the existence of the IOC ethics commission which provides an independent forum to establish that there was no improper behavior on our behalf. In a wide range of completed official inquiries into Salt Lake City these matters have never surfaced."

The British journalist, identified by the Deseret News as Andrew Jennings, provided the Salt Lake City newspaper with documents indicating former Olympic bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, as well as former finance director Rod Hamson, may have been reimbursed for expenses related to the trip.

Welch, reached by phone, said he recalled the trips but would not comment on the report. A call to Johnson's attorney was not immediately returned, and a number for Hamson could not be found. Welch and Johnson are thought to be the focus of the federal investigation into the Olympic bid improprieties.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph said Salt Lake City had spent $31,745 on visits and gifts for Gosper and his family in 1993 and 1995. IOC guidelines state members should not accept gifts worth more than $150 from any city bidding for the Olympics.

Although he is a member of the IOC ethics commission, Gosper said he would take no part in the deliberations.