DeFrantz tries anew for IOC board

This election year, at its history-making session in September in Buenos Aires, the International Olympic Committee will elect a new president. It will pick the site of the 2020 Summer Games. It will also decide what sport, if any, goes on to the 2020 program -- a decision that may or may not involve wrestling. Or, perhaps, squash, karate, baseball and softball, or others. Beyond all that, the IOC will also, as it always does at its sessions, elect members to its policy-making executive board. Anita DeFrantz of Los Angeles is in the running.

Within the past few days, DeFrantz sent a note to her IOC colleagues announcing her intent to stand for election. It says, in part, "I hope that you will be willing and able to vote for me when the time comes."

DeFrantz had similarly announced an intent to run for an EB seat at last year's session in London. But shortly before the balloting she withdrew her candidacy. She said Wednesday in an interview, "I didn't think I had done the groundwork to have a winning outcome."

Anita DeFrantz, IOC member since 1986

This time, she said, "The stars are shining more brightly. It feels better. People know I have been serious about all my work. The work of women in sport has come to a very important point -- the point where we move forward."

As DeFrantz points out in the note to the other 100 IOC members, only nine others have now served longer than she has. She is only 60. Even so, she has been a member since 1986.

She is due to remain a member until 2033.

Her institutional memory -- both about the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee -- can be formidable.

Her dedication and commitment to the movement can hardly be unquestioned.

She is a True Believer, no apologies, and has been ever since the 1976 Montreal Games, when as a rower -- she would win a bronze medal -- she stayed in the Olympic Village, and saw with her own eyes how sport could be a force for changing lives by promoting the Olympic ideals. A dedication to those values has since driven her through service to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, the LA 84 Foundation, the USOC, the international rowing federation (which goes by the acronym FISA) and the IOC.

"It really is important," she said, referring to the Olympic movement. "It is amazing that it exists in this world It is a great privilege to be a keeper of that trust. I believe it is a trust for the world."

For emphasis, she said, referring to life in the Village at the 1976 Games, "That was where my life changed.'

To look around that Village and know that there weren't enough medals to go around for everyone there -- and, still, there was everyone, not just together but all together, from wherever. "It's a powerful thing," she said, "to live in an Olympic Village."

DeFrantz has for years played a key role in urging the IOC to move toward equality on issues involving women's rights, both on the field of play and -- increasingly -- in the executive suite. Since 1995, she has chaired the IOC's Women and Sport commission; last year, she helped lead an IOC convention on the topic in Los Angeles.

During the years that Juan Antonio Samaranch was president, DeFrantz served on the IOC executive board, from 1992 through 2001, as a vice president from 1997 through 2001. She was the IOC's first female vice president.

In 2001, at the IOC session in Moscow, she ran for the IOC presidency itself. She received nine of 107 votes -- coming in last in the field. Of course, Jacques Rogge won. His term ends in September in Buenos Aires.

In 2007, at the session in Guatemala City, she ran for the executive board. She received six of 92 votes. Again, last.

In Guatemala, she said, "I am stunned. I hope this is not something to suggest women can never be elected to the executive board again. I will remain stunned for a while."

Three women currently serve on the 15-member board: Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden and Claudia Bokel of Germany.

It remains uncertain how many candidates ultimately will be drawn to run in September for the IOC board.

It will of course prove tempting for some to view DeFrantz's candidacy as a test of where the USOC stands in the aftermath of the resolution last year of the longstanding revenue dispute -- over certain broadcast and marketing shares -- that had strained relations between the USOC and IOC.

It's more apt, however, to view her candidacy as what it really is -- a measure of DeFrantz's standing and political skill after years all these many years within the IOC.

When Samaranch was president, she could command dozens of votes. But his time is years ago.

The Rogge years are almost over, too -- all 12, nearly gone without DeFrantz spending even one on the IOC executive board.

And, now?

"I have a great deal to offer," she said. "I wish to take responsibility at the executive level of this organization. I wish to share that."