Japanese keirin officials deny bribery report

TOKYO: Japanese officials yestrerday denied a report that the track cycling sport of keirin may have bribed its way into the Olympic Games.

The BBC said an investigation had uncovered documents outlining payments of US$3mil from the Japan Keirin Association (JKA) to cycling's world governing body the UCI.

But a senior Japanese official insisted there had been no wrongdoing before keirin first entered the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

“The JKA has been co-operating with the UCI for many years to develop keirin and we have been involved in various activities to improve the sport,” the JKA's Akihiro Matsukawa said.

“I have not been able to verify the documents the BBC say they have but the JKA denies the claims (of bribery).”

Keirin, which involves riders following a motorbike for several laps before a sprint finish, is big business in Japan, its country of origin, generating huge gambling revenues.

Hein Verbruggen, president of the UCI from 1991 to 2005, also protested his innocence.

“It has been done in total transparency,” Verbruggen, currently the International Olympic Committee's chief inspector, told the BBC.

“This was done for the development of track cycling around the world.”

Britain's Chris Hoy won keirin gold at this year's world championships in Manchester and will start as favourite in Beijing. – Reuters

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