IOC seeks Pound of flesh, warns strident Canadian

PYEONGCHANG • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not take kindly to withering words from its longest-serving member, Dick Pound, after he labelled fellow members as "old farts" for not being tougher on Russia over doping.

The 75-year-old, who joined the IOC in 1978 and is a two-time former vice-president, was told the door was open for him to leave the organisation yesterday.

The Canadian has been a vocal critic in the media of the IOC's handling of the Russian doping scandal for two years.

But he has never voted against the IOC's decisions on Russia for both the 2016 Olympics as well as the Pyeongchang Games.

"In the end, if you don't like the coffee, if you don't like the decor or the prices, you can go to another coffee shop," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

Adams was responding to the latest criticism by Pound, who said athletes should scare the IOC by threatening to stay away from the Games unless they got tougher on doping.

"The only people that scare these old farts are athletes saying, 'If you won't clean this up, we're not going to participate in these events'," Pound was quoted as saying.

"There are dissenting voices from countries like Britain, Canada, the US and France but not enough."

The IOC in 2016 let international federations rule on individual participation of Russian athletes at the Rio Games after a state-backed doping system was exposed. Pound had voted in favour of that decision.

The former World Anti-Doping Agency boss abstained from the vote for the participation of 169 invited Russians as neutrals under the Olympic flag for Pyeongchang shortly before the start of the Games on Feb 9.

One Russian, curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, has so far tested positive for meldonium - a banned substance that can aid in endurance - at the Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said yesterday that a hearing for Krushelnitsky, who won the bronze medal with his wife in mixed doubles curling, will take place today.

He has denied taking banned substances.

Fellow IOC member John Coates, another former vice-president, wrote to members on Tuesday expressing his dissatisfaction at Pound's comments, saying he was not living up to his title as the doyen of the IOC.

"Members talk to members and this is a matter for them to discuss," Adams said of Coates' letter.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'IOC seeks Pound of flesh, warns strident Canadian'. Print Edition | Subscribe