For World Anti-Doping Agency Chair and International Olympic Committee member Richard Pound, the Olympic movement at its best could do more for countries around the world than “almost anything I can imagine.”
Pound spoke about recent Olympic controversies and performance-enhancing drugs in a Timothy Dwight College-sponsored lecture at the Yale Center for British Art Tuesday.
The Olympic movement’s grounding in ethical principles, including respect, fair play, renunciation of violence, teamwork and self-discipline, is what makes it so potentially beneficial. If the ethical foundation of sport evaporates, he said, so too will its social and personal usefulness.
“The combination of healthy bodies and healthy, inquiring minds, developed through sports, leads to tremendous personal and societal resources,” Pound said.
WADA was created in response to the long-standing problem of performance-enhancing drugs, Pound said.
“Doping is dangerous cheating. It has no part in sport,” he said.
He defined doping as an offense of presence, not intent, calling it “very seldom accidental.”
The group drafted a world anti-doping code and required every country that wished to participate in this summer’s Olympics to accept it, he said.
In his lecture and a panel discussion that followed it, Pound also discussed other current Olympic issues. News that IOC members had requested expensive gifts from Salt Lake City Olympic bidding committee members when the city was trying to win the opportunity to host the 2002 Winter Olympics was “a major crisis for us,” he said. After the incident, Pound led the effort to investigate misconduct on the part of IOC members as well as candidate cities.
Responding to judging scandals — such as the controversy in this summer’s Olympics over who should have received the all-around gold medal in men’s gymnastics — Pound said sports officials are appointed by the international federations of each sport, but said he thinks the IOC must do something about judging problems.
Michael Harrigan, a sports business consultant who has worked for the IOC and the US Olympic Committee, moderated the panel discussion. Christine Brennan, a sports writer for USA TODAY and Frank Deford, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, also spoke on the panel.
Most of the audience questions centered on the Athens games, the men’s gymnastics incident — in which an American, Paul Hamm, was originally awarded the gold — and previous judging scandals.
Laura O’Neill ’03, a track and field athlete who attended with her sister, Olympic runner Kate O’Neill ’03, said she found the talk “very informative on the drugs issue.” The topic was relevant for the sisters because drug use is more frequent in track and field than in other sports, Laura O’Neill said.
Dan Winik ’07 said he was impressed by Pound’s candidness about challenges the IOC faces.
“Anyone who followed the Athens games knows how central Richard Pound is to the Olympic movement and to the currently hot topic of doping,” Winik said.