JULY 28 - THE senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) overseeing Beijing's preparations for next month's Games has denied that he was involved in an event being allowed to buy its way onto the programme.

The BBC claimed today that Hein Verbruggen (pictured below) allowed the keirin, which sees riders follow a motorbike for a set number of laps before battling it out in a sprint, to buy its way its way into the Olympics while he was president of the world cycling governing body, the UCI, from 1991 to 2005.

Keirin is big business in Japan where millions is gambled on it annually and the BBC claim an investigation has produced documents that show payments totalling $3million (£1.5 million) from the Japanese Keirin Association to the UCI before it made its debut on the Olympic programme at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Verbruggen, the chairman of the IOC Co-Ordination Commission in charge of preparations for Beijing, insisted the process was above board. 

He told the BBC: "It's been done in total transparency. 

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

Hein Verbruggen
A spokesman for Japan's Keirin Association, also denied the claims. 

He said: "No transfer of money took place. 

"What we did is that we supported establishing the cycling training centres in Japan and also we paid the set amount that all the national federations pay for membership... sort of a membership fee - I have to say I do not know about it at all. 

"I have been in this position up until 1998 however I've never heard of any direct payment of money or cash." 

The UCI said in a statement released today: "A thorough examination of our records and interviews with those involved has turned up no evidence that this was anything other than a straightforward, completely proper arrangement to promote track cycling. 

"The agreement did not include any provision regarding keirin's acceptance as an Olympic sport or even a commitment by UCI to seek its inclusion in the Olympic programme. 

"As UCI exists to promote cycling, it is perfectly logical that UCI would cooperate with Japanese national cycling groups to encourage international interest in track cycling." 

Britain's Chris Hoy won the keirin at the World Championships in Manchester in March and is favourite for the gold medal in Beijing.