Bach defends handling of Russian participation at Pyeongchang 2018 as Pound joins critics

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From Inside the Games

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attempted to defend his organisation’s handling of the Russian doping crisis today by arguing how they have reached a “balance” between a fair punishment and a “humiliation” for the country.

He spoke as Richard Pound, the IOC’s longest-serving member, became the latest to criticise the way in which they have supposedly prioritised Russia’s return to the Olympic fold over a meaningful punishment.

Russian athletes deemed eligible to compete at next month’s Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea will do so as part of a neutral team following evidence of what has been described as a “systemic manipulation” of the doping system at the last edition in Sochi.

The team will be called the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, however, and is set to be allowed to march under its own flag at the Closing Ceremony of the Games.

Canada’s Pound told CBC that he found aspects of the decision “deeply troubling” and said that he would not attend the Closing Ceremony if Russia, as expected, are granted permission to march under their own flag.

“Suspending the Russian team was a good start, but the farther down I got in reading the account of all of this, the more I realised that 99 per cent of what it was dealing with was how to get the Russians back in,” Pound told the Canadian broadcaster.

“They haven’t atoned for or acknowledged, or taken any steps whatsoever, to guarantee that the same sort of thing won’t happen again.

“It simply looks as if, when you’re dealing with the IOC, if you deny, deny, deny and you happen to be a big country, just keep denying because they’ll find a way to let the athletes from your country participate.”

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