A short bio on Mr. Pound: he’s a current Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee, its former Vice-President and has a history of saying some really ignorant things. Lo and behold, he’s struck again. This time, Pound targeted Western media for what he deems the unfair targeting of the Sochi Games in relation to Russia’s anti-gay laws. His message - Russia’s really not that bad, they’re not killing anybody, everybody chill out.
So it’s a target of convenience with respect to Russia…not that I approve of the law, but putting it on a scale of 1-10 of odious laws, it’s not way up there near 10.
What would be a 10? If Russia had laws on the books that explicitly sanctioned the killing of gays? And since the law is not a 10, we should say nothing? Glad that’s settled. On with the Games!
It’s a target of convenience, Mr. Pound, in so much as the IOC elected Russia as host country for these Olympics. This is not a random attack on Russia. There are gross injustices being meted out to Russians and the whole world will be watching, thanks to your beloved Olympic Games. But, there’s too much money at stake for them to back out now. It’s in the Committee’s best interest to deploy bait and switch tactics to downplay the atrocities perpetrated by the Russian government.
Pound also worked in a jab at the United States, saying that much of the criticism of Russia’s nationwide ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” in areas visible to minors is coming from U.S. states that don’t allow same-sex couples to marry.
So, the U.S. should keep quiet because it’s being a massive hypocrite? There’s no gay marriage in the some states, so what moral high ground does the U.S. have to stand on in criticizing Russia? This shows Pound has no understanding whatsoever about “gay stuff.” While marriage has become the face of the so-called gay movement, it isn’t the only thing gays are concerned about. There’s also the disproportionate rates of gay teen suicide, hate crimes, tax benefits, end of life decisions etc. A little intellectual curiosity goes a long way!
In 2007, Pound found himself in similar hot water. Of Floyd Landis’ positive test at the Tour de France, he quipped:
“I mean, it was 11 to 1!” Pound said, referring to Landis’s reported testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, a measure used to identify doping. “You’d think he’d be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle?”
Violating? As in raping? Is that what he really meant to say? How does rape rank on the 1-10 scale? This “stuff” is straight from the misogynist playbook. I imagine he thought he was just being funny, but it’s his straight, white male privilege that compels him to continually miss the mark by such a wide margin.
Truth is, he’s also smug and arrogant. Dick Pound visited Ithaca College in 2006. I was a junior at the time and attended a public lecture entitled, “The Olympic Games in a Time of World Conflict.” I asked him a question regarding the utility of the World Anti-Doping Agency (of which he was Chairman) - given that testing seemed to always be playing catch up to new designer drugs, I suggested that drug testing only widened the gap between the haves and have nots. My logic was that those who could afford to cheat the system would always hold the advantage. He told me my question made no sense and it was ludicrous to suggest there could be anything negative about drug testing.
The thing about Dick Pound and those who defend the Olympic Charter is that they throw around words like “fair play” and “Olympic Spirit” so as to elevate themselves above the fray. How can anybody question their integrity when they’re the arbiters of sport? This has been the modus operandi of Pound and the IOC for decades. If they say the Games are to be without politics, then they are. The end. It must be very inconvenient for them that, in this internet age and social media, it’s oh so difficult to sweep all this socio-political “stuff” under the rug.
An athlete’s body is political. His/her decision to represent a country on a global stage is a political act. The world in which these Games take place is filled with political strife. Thus, it’s impossible for sport and politics not to intersect. To try and whitewash politics from sport tells me that Pound and the IOC have very little regard for our intellect. It’s up to athletes and activists to continue to agitate, and make sure Russia and the IOC answer for this “anti-gay stuff.”
For a more on Russia’s anti-gay law and the Sochi Games, click here.