Wednesday, February 11, 1998
Pound abstains from vote but speaks out for snowboarderNAGANO, Japan (CP) -- Canada's top official in the International Olympic Committee abstained from the vote on whether to disqualify Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati but IOC vice-president Dick Pound made it clear to reporters where he stands on the issue.
"My opinion is that we have been fighting for a number of years against doping in sport and I don't think this is doping," the Montreal native told reporters today. "Under our medical code, marijuana is not a prohibited substance. It certainly doesn't enhance performance."
While he didn't vote, Pound was a key player in the backroom deliberations that led to the IOC stripping the Canadian of his medal for testing positive for marijuana.
The case was first discussed by the IOC's medical commission, which voted 13-12 for a formal recommendation that Rebagliati lose his medal and be disqualified.
The IOC's ruling executive board -- comprising the most powerful names in world sport -- then voted 3-2 to support the recommendation, with Pound and one other members abstaining and IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch unable to vote since he is only required to do so if there is a tie.
"For me I don't you should take an Olympic medal from an athlete unlres she or she has doped," Pound said.
The decision to abstain from voting was apparently Pound's.
"I did not participate in the decision because I though it might give rise to an apparent conflict of interest, but I did express a view on it."
Pound said the Ben Johnson doping scandal 10 years ago was quite separate from the Rebagliati case.
"It's not even close. Ben Johnson was taking anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing substances. This is pot."
"I don't think these days there are very many prosecutions for people who may have some (marijuana) on hand for a little personal use . . . I think the mores have changed for some degree," he added.
Rebagliati said the last time he was in close contact with marijuana smokers was Jan. 31 in Whistler, the night before he departed for the Canadian team's staging area in Calgary prior to coming to Japan, Wood told reporters.
As for the Canadian defence that the positive test might be caused by second-hand exposure to marijuana smoke, Pound said "that's certainly what the evidence is.
"As I understand it he said he had been a user from time to time, up until April 1997 when he started to focus on coming here to Nagano and since then stopped.
"Sounds like not all his friends did and he didn't give up on his friends. . . . Win lose or draw, this kid has had a lot of unwelcome attention and focus on his personal life and habits that didn't affect his performance here."