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SAO PAULO (AP) — The man who has headed the Olympic movement in Brazil for decades and helped bring the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro will extend his rule despite increased criticism and accusations of wrongdoing.
Carlos Nuzman, who has been synonymous with the Olympics in Brazil since the mid-1990s, is poised to win re-election as president of the national Olympic committee for a fifth straight four-year term on Friday despite increased calls to have him removed.
The 70-year-old former Olympic volleyball player is the only candidate.
A local confederation that opposes Nuzman's candidacy has come forward with evidence of an alleged break-in by members of his committee at its headquarters. Congressman Romario is claiming a possible link between Nuzman and alleged ticket sale irregularities for the 2016 Games.
Brazil Sports Minister Also Rebelo has publicly said he is against having sports officials stay in power for too long. Others have argued that Nuzman shouldn't be head of the 2016 Games and the national Olympic committee at the same time.
Allegations of lack of transparency and the recent case of files being illegally downloaded by 2016 committee members from London Olympic organizers also aren't playing in Nuzman's favor.
The Brazilian committee has dismissed the criticism and denied all allegations. It has provided its defense in all cases against Nuzman. A request for an interview with Nuzman was not granted and questions sent via email were not immediately answered.
Nuzman has said he's supported by 29 of the 30 confederations voting for the committee's presidency.
He has been head of the body since 1995 and has retained widespread internal support after bringing the Olympics to Brazil — and South America — for the first time, a feat that also earned him recognition throughout the International Olympic Committee. Nuzman has been an IOC member since 2000.
The only opposing force comes from the Brazilian confederation for ice sports, whose president's attempt to run against Nuzman was thwarted because he allegedly didn't meet some of the eligibility requirements.
President Eric Maleson, who is facing an investigation into alleged irregularities and poor management in his organization, claims he is being persecuted by the committee.
"There's a need for a drastic change ahead of Brazilian Olympic Committee," Maleson told The Associated Press. "These same leaders were the ones who called for the break-in and the invasion of our headquarters in Copacabana."
Maleson on Wednesday released a security-camera video to ESPN Brasil showing members of the Brazilian committee entering its headquarters without his authorization last December. The images show the employees entering the offices with the help of a locksmith.
The Brazilian committee said in a statement that there was no break-in because the offices of the confederation (known by the Portuguese acronym CBDG) are rented and paid for by the committee. Maleson denied the claim and provided a document showing the confederation has a sublet agreement with the committee and paid for the rent.
The committee said it was there only to abide to an auditor's investigation into the alleged irregularities in Maleson's administration.
"The access to the room, which was not in use by the CBDG, happened only because the entity was being audited and there was a need to verify documents within the timelines established by the judicial system," the committee said.
Emilio Strapasson, a former athlete and the auditor assigned by a judge in the investigation against Maleson, later said in his final report in the case that there was "abundant evidence" of irregularities and of "poor management" by Maleson as head of the CBDG.
Maleson claimed the investigation was orchestrated by the Brazilian committee in response to his opposition to Nuzman.
Maleson is not the only one against Nuzman in Brazil. The calls for the official's removal from power have increased among sports commentators and local media recently, with many columnists across the country demanding a change in leadership.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni