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You are free to leave, IOC tells Pound

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IOC President Thomas Bach leaves a news conference with Mark Adams, IOC Chief of Communications. Reuters

PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee yesterday told its longest-serving member, Dick Pound, he was free to leave the organisation after the Canadian labelled fellow members ‘old farts’ for not being tougher on Russia over doping.

The 75-year-old Pound, a 1960 Olympics swimming participant who joined the IOC in 1978 and is a two-time former vice president, 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 in Rio de Janeiro as well as the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“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 the IOC 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 decided to let international federations rule on individual participation of Russian athletes at the Rio summer Olympics after a wide, state-backed doping system was exposed. Pound had voted in favour of that decision.

He 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 has so far tested positive for banned substances at the Games.

Some 98 out of 100 IOC members voted in favour of the Executive Board’s decision on Russia’s participation as neutrals at the Games apart from two abstentions, including Pound’s.

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.

“I think members talk to members and this is a matter for them to discuss,” Adams said of Coates’ letter.

“What is clear from the letter is he wanted to remind Pound that there was a full discussion of the full process. The vote was unanimous apart from two abstentions.”

Adams said there was no disciplinary procedure opened against Pound for his comments.

“It has not been sent to the ethics commission, as far as I know,” he said.

Pound could not be immediately reached for a comment.

The Canadian lawyer unsuccessfully ran for the IOC presidency in 2001. He also helped set up the World Anti-Doping Agency and was its first boss.

He is also chairman of the boards of directors of Olympic Broadcasting Services.

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