Pound criticises IOC response to Russian doping problem

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Dick Pound has condemned the International Olympic Committee’s response to the Russian doping problem which has overshadowed preparations for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The IOC banned Russia over evidence it ran a systemic state-sponsored doping programme at the Sochi Games in 2014 but also said Russian athletes who proved they were clean would be allowed to compete as neutrals in the Pyeongchang Games, which open on Friday.

The 168 Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies they feature in.

Canadian IOC member Pound, speaking during the 132nd IOC session, said: “The whistleblowers have been left with no protection from the Olympic movement and every effort has been made to give a distinctly Russian profile to the (OAR) team here.

“I agree we need to get Russia back in the Olympic family but on our terms, not on its terms of denial and attack.

“A large proportion of the world believes the IOC have failed and let down clean athletes. We talk more than we walk and, with respect, I don’t think we can talk our way out of this. Our future depends on what we do but not what we say.

“I speak not as an enemy but as someone wanting to help the fight against doping. The fact that I have an opinion different to the all-powerful executive board does not mean that I am not entitled to an opinion.”

The number of OAR athletes could increase, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport announcing, as the IOC session was ongoing, that 32 Russian athletes have begun a procedure against the decision not to invite them to the Pyeongchang Games.

Earlier IOC disciplinary commission chair Denis Oswald made reference to the decision by CAS last week to clear 28 Russian athletes of doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Oswald said: “The decision that CAS took is surprising and shocking for us as we were convinced we had very solid evidence to present.

“The decision is difficult to explain. I don’t understand it myself. We can only speculate as we have not received yet the motivation.”

CAS announced 32 athletes were challenging the decision of the IOC not to invite them to Pyeongchang. The case is likely to be heard in South Korea on Wednesday.

Among the athletes making the case is South Korea-born Victor Ahn, the most decorated short-track speedskater in Olympic history with six gold medals. He became a Russian citizen to represent the hosts at the Sochi Games.

A statement from CAS read: “The applicants challenge the IOC decision refusing to invite them to participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

“They request that CAS overturn the IOC decision and allow them to participate in these Games as Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

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