A member of Paris' Olympic bid committee was among 47 people who went on trial Monday in a major political corruption case.
Former French Sports Minister Guy Drut, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, is accused in a party funding scandal dating back to the 1990s.
Drut, one of four former ministers charged in the case, denies any wrongdoing. The case centers on a secret deal under which companies allegedly funneled millions of dollars in kickbacks to France's major political parties in exchange for contracts to build and renovate schools.
Allegations that Drut received thousands of euros (dollars) in kickbacks between 1990 and 1993 are sure to cast negative publicity over Paris' bid for the 2012 Olympics. The French capital is considered the front-runner in a high-profile race against London, New York, Madrid and Moscow.
Drut is not expected to take the stand until May. The IOC selects the 2012 host city in Singapore on July 6.
The Paris bid committee, of which Drut is also a member, has distanced itself from the scandal. Spokesman Jerome Lenfant said Monday it has no comment on the case.
The allegations stem from Jacques Chirac's tenure as Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995. The widely watched trial is expected to run through July.
Drut, the 1976 Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles, quit competitive sports in 1981 and turned to politics. He was elected a lawmaker for the RPR party, before serving as Sports Minister from 1995-97. He has been a member of the IOC since 1996.
It is unclear when or if the IOC would take any action in the case. The committee has been sensitive to allegations of corruption against its members in the past.
IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said IOC president Jacques Rogge and the IOC ethics commission have been aware of the case for at least seven months.
In August, Indonesian member Mohamad "Bob" Hasan was expelled from the IOC after his country's Supreme Court convicted him of corruption charges dating back 10 years.
The IOC executive board recommended last month that IOC vice president Kim Un-yong be expelled in connection with corruption allegations in South Korea. He was suspended by the IOC last year and is currently serving a two-year prison term. The full IOC is to vote on his expulsion in July.
Also in Singapore, the IOC is to vote on the proposed expulsion of Bulgarian member Ivan Slavkov. He was implicated in a BBC program last year on alleged bid city corruption.
PIERRE-ANTOINE SOUCHARD Associated Press
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