Courtesy of The Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland
IOC Historical Archives / International Federations - Basketball - Correspondence - 1961-1975
USOC Appeal to IOC
UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
OLYMPIC HOUSE, 57 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK, N. Y. 10016 • Tel. (212) 686.1456 • CABLE: "AMOLYMPIC"
CLIFFORD H. BUCK, President
USOC APPEAL TO THE IOC EXECUTIVE BOARD ON THE FINAL 1972 OLYMPIC BASKETBALL GAME
January 18, 1973
The Lord Killanin, President
International Olympic Committee
Chateau de Vidy
CH-1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Dear Lord Killanin:
On the night of September 10, 1972, you and members of the IOC Executive Board received a report from the USA delegation concerning the gross irregularities which occurred at the end of the USA-USSR basketball game. We were appealing to the IOC from the ruling of the FIBA Jury of Appeal which, in flagrant violation of the Official Basketball Rules of FIBA, and in flagrant violation of the Olympic ethic and all rules of fair play, upheld the arbitrary addition of several seconds of playing time by order of the Secretary General of FIBA who, under the Official Rules, had no legal authority to give such an order. The order was given at a time when, as the timers and scorer clearly state in their affidavit, there was only "one second left to play". Play was restarted twice after the point in time when there was only "one second left to play".
After hearing our report, the Executive Board discussed our appeal in a closed meeting and then instructed us to document the facts and submit them to the IOC Executive Board for consideration.
We request your careful consideration of the enclosed documents which provide irrefutable evidence to prove that the order of the Secretary General of FIBA was not only a violation of fundamental Olympic principles, but was without authority and completely illegal under the Official Rules. The FIBA Jury of Appeal was appointed by the Secretary General to make a decision on the United States protest. We are submitting proof that the ruling by the Jury was not based upon an objective consideration of all of the facts, and that plain justice requires that the Jury's decision be overruled as provided for in IOC Rule 40. We enclose the following documentation:
Exhibit A - Official Basketball Rules of FIBA.
Exhibit B - Sworn statement (Affidavit) of Official Timer, 30-Second Timer, Scorekeeper and their Coordinator.
Exhibit C - Argumentation and supplementary remarks to the communique of FIBA.
Exhibit D - Signed statement of Longines technician who was Operator of the Clock, approved by the Longines company and attested by the company seal.
Exhibit E - Sworn statement (Affidavit) of the Referee of the game, Renato Righetto of Campinas, Brazil.
Exhibit F - Statement by R. Wm. Jones, Secretary General of FIBA and Chairman of the Technical Comittee for the Olympic Basketball Tournament.
Exhibit G - Statement of FIBA Jury of Appeal appointed by the Secretary General.
Exhibit H - ABC-TV film showing the last seconds of the game.
Examination of the foregoing exhibits proves conclusively that the length of the game was extended illegally after the game had actually officially ended. They prove that this illegal extension of the game was ordered by an individual who by FIBA rules was not an official of the game, and who had no authority or legal right under the FIBA rules to preempt the duties and responsibilities of the officials who the FIBA rules clearly state are in complete charge of the game.
FIBA Rule 4, Article l6 (Exhibit A) states clearly that the only officials of the game are the "REFEREE AND AN UMIRE ASSISTED BY A TIMEKEEPER,.A SCORER, AND A 30-SECOND OPERATOR". These assistants of the Referee and Umpire are often called "Table Officials". Note that in the Table Officials' sworn statement, paragraph 2 (Exhibit B),they say that after the game was interrupted with only one second left to play "DR. JONES GAVE THE ORDER TO THE LONGINES TECHNICIAN T0 RESET THE TIME CLOCK TO THREE SECONDS. WE WANT TO EMPHASIZE CLEARLY AGAIN THAT THE ORDER TO RESET THE CLOCK TO THREE SECONDS WAS GIVEN NEITHER BY THE REFEREES NOR BY THE OFFICIAL TABLE, BUT ONLY BY DR. JONES". This is the crux of the matter. The order to reset the clock was given by one who had no authority to give such an order. Paragraph 1 (c) of Exhibit C is incorrect. At no time did the Referee give such an order. (See Exhibit E)
Further, at the close of their sworn statement, the Table Officials state "BECAUSE WE DO NOT AQREE WITH POINTS 1 (c) AND (d) OF THE ARGUMENTATION AND SUPPLEMENTARY REMARKS OF THE OFFICIAL COMUNIQUE OF FIBA" (Exhibit C) "WHICH DO NOT CORRESPOND WITH THE FACTS, WE SEE OURSELVES COMTELLED TO CLEARLY DESCRIBE THE LAST THREE SECONDS OF THE GAME".
Additionally, contrary to what is inferred in the statement of the FIBA Jury of Appeal (Exhibit G), the Scorekeeper has verbally stated to C.H. Buck, President of the USOC, in the presence of several responsible witnesses, that the Table Officials who were reported to have been "heard" by the Jury were not permitted to describe to the Jury the last three seconds of the game.
The statement of the FIBA Secretary General himself, paragraph e (Exhibit F), confirms that it was he alone who instructed that the clock be reset to three seconds. This is further confirmed by the film (submitted herewith) which shows Dr. Jones standing by the officials' table and holding up three fingers as is also stated in the affidavit of the Table Officials.
In paragraph c of his statement, the Secretary General says "Immediately following the second free throw the umpire caused the ball to be put in play from behind the end line by the Soviet team. However, at about the same time, the referee gave the signal of 'no play' thus stopping the game". The words, "at about the same time" are ambiguous and misleading. To the contrary, the Table Officials (Timers and Score-keeper) speaking of precisely this moment of the game, specifically state in their sworn statement (Exhibit B) that "THE SECOND FREE THROW WAS SUCCESSFUL AND THE BALL WAS RELEASED BY THE REFEREES. THE BALL WAS THEN PUT INTO PLAY BY A SOVIET PLAYER. TWO SECONDS OF PLAYING TIME PASSED, THEN THE GAME WAS INTERRUPTED BY THE REFEREE WITH ONE SECOND LEFT TO PLAY". It is of utmost significance that there is no evidence to refute the fact that at this point only one second of playing time remained. It is also completely clear in the film, as well as in the sworn statements of the Table Officials, the Referee,and the Technician operating the clock that, as a result of the order by the Secretary General, not less than four seconds of play actually occurred after this point in the game at which time, correctly and officially, only one second of playing time remained.
Please note in Exhibit D, the statement of the Longines Technician, that "THE TECHNICAL REPRESENTATIVE OF FIBA FOR THIS MATCH ASKED ME, AT THE REQUEST OF MR. JONES, TO SET BACK THE CLOCK THREE SECONDS , ALTHOUGH THE CLOCK INDICATED ONLY ONE SECOND". The Clock Operator further states "IT IS 12 YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN TIMEKEEPING FOR IDNGINES AND NEVER ONCE IN MY CAREER AS TIMEKEEPER AT BASKETBALL, DID ANYONE EVER ASK ME TO EXTEND THE TIME".
Please note also paragraph 6 of the sworn statement (Exhibit E) of the Referee, Sr. Righetto, which states that "THE RETURN OF THE STOP WATCH WAS DONE. . . THROUGH THE INTERVENTION OF THIRDS". By "thirds" he obviously refers to the Secretary General and/or another representative of FIBA. Righetto in his paragraph 8 says "I CONSIDER WHAT HAPPENED AS COMPLETELY ILLEGAL AND AN INFRACTION TO THE RULES OF A BASKETBALL GAME".
We shall be glad to endeavor to secure any additional testimony or information that the IOC Executive Board may desire.
We request the IOC Executive Board to reverse the ruling of the FIBA Jury of Appeal and to declare that the USA basketball team, which had the larger score when the official playing time had elapsed, was the winner of the game. Only you can now, by so doing, correct this injustice and thus erase what otherwise would be forever a dark stain upon the integrity of the Olympic Games.
Clifford H. Buck