February 28 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge has further undermined the fragile position of Mario Vázquez Raña, the increasingly embattled head of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), by scrapping a position he had only just made a key appointment too.

It follows a row over the removal of Australia's Kevan Gosper as vice-chair of Olympic Solidarity, the IOC programme that distributes nearly $400 million (£230 million/€310 million) to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around the world and which Vázquez Raña has headed since 2002.

Gosper had been replaced by Sweden's Gunilla Lindberg, the secretary general of the ANOC, with Vázquez Raña claiming that he had taken the decision at the behest of Rogge.

Rogge denied this and, following a letter of protest from Sheikh Ahmad al Sabah, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), he has responded by scrapping the position of vice-chair, telling Vázquez Raña that it is "no longer necessary".

Gosper (pictured below left with Rogge and Vázquez Raña) will now become a member of the Olympic Solidarity committee, alongside Lindberg, who has claimed that she did not seek to be promoted to vice-chair.

Gosper's treatment was one of several issues that were discussed at a heated 53rd ANOC Executive Council Meeting in London last week, an event marred by several rows involving Vázquez Raña.

But this latest setback is the clearest sign of Vázquez Raña's dwindling power within the Olympic Movement as he approaches compulsory retirement from the IOC at the end of this year following his 80th birthday in June.

His position as President of the ANOC, which he has held since 1979, is growing more and more weaker.

Sheikh Ahmad, the vice-president of ANOC, has already been lined up to replace Vázquez Raña when he steps down in 2015.

But Vázquez Raña may be forced out earlier than that with signs of growining discontent over his leadership and could face a vote of "no confidence" at ANOC's General Assembly in Moscow in April.

He is also facing a rebellion in his own backyard with several National Olympic Committees openly questioning his position as head of Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), which he has been President of since 1975.

-Duncan Mackay

Source: www.insidethegames.biz