The head of the International Olympic Committee has called for changes in the way it approaches the fight against doping. The doping issue dominated the first of a two-day meeting in South Korea.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Tuesday told delegates at the IOC session in Pyeongchang that the organization needed to change the legal framework around the fight against doping, an issue that dominated the first of the two days of talks.
"The challenge will be how we can manage and protect the integrity of an organization like the IOC with its 206 members," Bach told some 100 IOC delegates at the meeting. He also said that the authorities would need to counter the "growing power of individual rights" in the effort to combat doping in elite-level sports.
On Sunday, Bach had called for structural reforms at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after it overturned the IOC-imposed suspensions of 28 Russian athletes over doping allegations.
Critical voice from within
During Tuesday's session, Richard Pound, who is a former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), criticized the IOC for its handing of the scandal over evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia. The International Olympic Committee's longest-serving member told the meeting that a "large proportion of the world believes the IOC has failed and let down clean athletes."
The Canadian's comments sparked an unusually lively exchange with another IOC member, Gerardo Werthein, who defended Bach while attacking Pound.
"For some reason if Mr. Pound doesn't agree, then it's wrong," Werthein, an IOC member from Argentina, said. "We have to understand that this is not Mr. Pound's organization. But this is the IOC."
"He makes statements that create an environment of doubt," Werthein added. "In one way it discredits the work that is being done in the IOC."
Pound responded by accusing Werthein of launching an attack on his character.
"The fact I have a different opinion from others... does not mean I am not entitled to the opinion. I think it's very unfortunate in a collegial gathering like this to suggest that I am not entitled to give that opinion."
The IOC expects 168 Russian athletes who have been deemed "clean" to participate in the games under a neutral flag, with the team to be known as "Olympic Athletes from Russia." Another 32 have appealed to the CAS to be granted invitations to compete in Pyeongchang.
Reforms to attract hosts
Bach also used the 132nd IOC Session to present a package of 118 reforms dubbed "The New Norm. These are designed to provide more support for host cities and boost long-term development. Bach said the reforms would lead to a "new norm" in Olympics from the candidature, the delivery and the legacy, and lead to "the biggest savings in the history of the Olympic Games."
The move comes in reaction to dwindling interest in hosting Olympic Games. By the time the right to host the 2024 Summer Games was awarded, it came down to just two bidders, after Hamburg, Budapest, Boston, and Rome had all withdrawn from the race. Apparently worried that the loser would not bid for the next Summer Olympics, the IOC brokered a deal, which will see Paris host the Games in 2024, followed by Los Angeles in 2028.
pfd/mds (AP, dpa)