Dick Pound: End of an IOC era

Published on January 2nd, 2023

A seismic moment for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) occurred at the close of 2022 when, after 44 years, Dick Pound will cease to be a full IOC member at the age-limit of 80. The highly opinionated Canadian was arguably the most important member in the 128-year history of sport’s most exclusive club not to have been installed as President.

Since being inducted into the IOC in Athens in 1978, Pound’s influence has been felt everywhere, from transforming the body’s financial fortunes, to weeding out corruption to spearheading the fight against doping. His outspokenness was as embraced outside the organization as feared within its halls.

David Owen of inside the games caught up with Pound for a two part question-and-answer-style interview, which was conducted via email:

1. 44 years: if you had the chance, would you do it again?
Yes, for certain. All of the underlying values and reasons for my earlier work and subsequent joining of the IOC still exist.

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There were initially two main reasons for becoming involved: the first was that if you drink from a well created by others (the volunteers who supported sport and athletes), after finishing competition, you have a moral obligation to put back in at least as much as you drew from the well and the second was to help make it possible for other athletes to have as much fun as I had during my competitive years.

The more I did, the more I enjoyed it and I think I was reasonably successful, although not without occasional bumps in the road. But, in the process, we developed several major initiatives and programs that have produced some interesting outcomes, both organizational and economic, for the Olympic Movement.

2. Is there one big decision in all that time you regret, or would have done differently?
Probably several…

One in particular was, against my better judgment, accepting the “assurances” of Kéba MBaye that Jean-Claude Ganga was a leopard who had changed his spots, with the result that I did not continue to object to his becoming a member of the IOC. MBaye was wrong and I was wrong. Ganga was one of the IOC members very much at the center of, inter alia, the Salt Lake City scandal. He was expelled, for good reasons, in 1999.

I was disappointed to have been ineffective in persuading the Canadian Government not to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and, in my dual role as then President of the COC, in not being able to persuade the COC members themselves to resist the call for a boycott.

For the rest of Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.

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