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IOC reaches revenue-sharing agreement

DENVER -- There is still no firm timetable. Funny, though, how a few million dollars can make the anger go away.

Olympic officials called a halt to their feud with the U.S. Olympic Committee on Friday, agreeing to take several million dollars in the short term in exchange for delaying talks on reducing America's take from the sponsorship and TV deal pots until 2013.

For now, it seems everyone's a winner: The International Olympic Committee, the USOC and its new chairman, Larry Probst, and, yes, even the Chicago 2016 bid, which was perceived by many as being held hostage by these tense negotiations.

IOC president Jacques Rogge called the agreement "very constructive."

"We feel this is a new era of cooperation and partnership between the USOC and the IOC," said Bob Ctvrtlik, one of the USOC's key negotiators.

Also disclosed at the close of the IOC meetings Friday:

The IOC executive board will meet in August to recommend two of the seven sports vying for inclusion into the 2016 Olympics. The membership will vote on those two in October. The seven sports are baseball, softball, golf, rugby sevens, roller speedskating, squash and karate.

Doping retests from the Beijing Olympics are still two or three weeks from being completed. The IOC decided to retest 500 doping samples to look for previously undetectable drugs.

The revenue-sharing agreement calls for the parties to meet later this year to discuss how much more the USOC should pay toward the expense of putting on the Olympics -- costs such as the onsite anti-doping operation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the coordination commission.

Those expenses reach into eight figures, with national committees paying one-third. The USOC is one of 205 national committees, and the agreement gives a nod to the reality that the USOC should pay more than 1-205th of that part of the bill.

"Given that they will receive more revenue in the future, they will contribute more than I would say the rank and file Olympic committees," Rogge said. "How much is to be debated. How much is to be discussed."

The discussion will take place later this year, with no deadline for a resolution.

Pushed further onto the back burner is the key issue: The amount of money the USOC receives from the IOC's top sponsorship program and TV deals. Those negotiations won't reopen until 2013, to take hold in 2021, after most current sponsorship deals end.

The USOC currently receives 20 percent of the sponsorship money and 12.75 percent of the TV cash, and there is a lot of point-counterpoint as to why those figures are fair or unfair.

The USOC argues that American-based companies pay the majority of the money into the system -- for instance, NBC paid $894 million to televise the Beijing Olympics, more than double what the Europeans paid. So, it's not outlandish for the USOC to take a bigger portion of the proceeds, especially because it is unique among national Olympic committees in that it doesn't get federal funding.

The other countries say that was a reasonable arrangement in 1996, when the contract was signed and the package was worth around $100 million. But that has grown to more than $1 billion, and as the amount has grown, the IOC says the gap between the USOC and everyone else has become too large.

"We've always said we just wanted to get them to the table, talking seriously," said Hein Verbruggen, one of the Olympic leaders most outspoken about the agreement. "We've said, 'We need you guys at the table. It takes some heat off Chicago."

Though leaders from both sides denied it, there was a feeling that the Chicago 2016 bid was being linked to the IOC-USOC debate. The Olympic family is, after all, a highly politicized group.

"We never felt there was strong linkage," Ctvrtlik said. "But in a room where one or two votes can make a difference, we'd rather have this issue behind us."

Ctvrtlik said some of the ice started to melt when Probst met Rogge for the first time, in Switzerland in January.

This week's Olympic meetings began with more rhetoric when a group of leaders passed a motion urging the IOC to terminate the contract. Probst knew a meeting with Rogge was essential, and they hammered out their agreement Wednesday.

They agreed to agree.

By the time the 2013 negotiations start, the current recession presumably will be over, and both the USOC and IOC will find their finances and futures more predictable.

"It's a defined date that will take into account the realities of the world at that point and the USOC's role in the movement at that point," Ctvrtlik said.