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Dick Pound: Making waves at the IOC

They stand among Canada's great sporting heroes, immortalized by world championships, shattered records and even stamps. Yet their overstuffed trophy cabinets contain no Olympic medal. We look back at some remarkable Olympians and the reasons they fell short of the most coveted honour in amateur sport.

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Dick Pound failed to win a swimming medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. But the Montreal tax lawyer traded his trunks for a business suit and has, in recent decades, had more influence on the Olympic movement than any other Canadian. In this CBC Television clip we see how the blunt-spoken Pound climbed the rungs of power, from athlete to vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

Pound gets mixed reviews from Canadian observers as to whether he's up to the all-powerful job he now covets -- president of the IOC. The man himself says he knows he has made some enemies tackling tough issues; from the Salt Lake City corruption scandal to doping in sport. "Nothing I do is designed to get me elected as president," Pound says. "It's to do the best thing under the circumstances at the time."
• At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Dick Pound was the only Canadian to reach the finals in a swimming event. He was a double finalist, finishing sixth in the 100-metre relay and fourth in the team relay. At the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, Pound won individual gold and set a Games record in the 110-yard freestyle. He also won two silvers and a bronze in relay events.

• Pound failed in his bid for the IOC presidency, coming third behind winner Jacques Rogge, a Belgian surgeon and former Olympic sailor, and Un Young Kim of South Korea. Kim had been implicated in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal that Pound investigated for the IOC. In his 2004 book Inside the Olympics, Pound blames his loss on outgoing president Juan Antonio Samaranch's push to give the top job to a European and his tacit support for Rogge.

• After losing the July 2001 vote, Pound resigned all his duties on the IOC executive board, saying he wanted to allow Rogge to choose his own team. Pound, however, let it be known that he hoped to continue as the IOC's television and sponsorship negotiator. Rogge gave that job to another IOC member but asked Pound to resume his chairmanship of the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency. Pound agreed.

• Richard W. Pound was born March 22, 1942, in St. Catharines, Ont. When he was six, his family moved to Ocean Falls, B.C., a small town where his father was an engineer at a pulp-and-paper mill. Ocean Falls had a reputation for producing top Canadian swimmers. Pound learned to paddle in a 20-metre pool built by the mill, which also hired a swim coach. He continued training after his family moved to Montreal.

• A position with Canada's amateur swimming association led to secretary-general of the Canadian Olympic Association and, in 1978, election to the International Olympic Commission. Pound eventually became a "permanent" member of the volunteer organization, meaning he doesn't have to relinquish his membership until he turns 80 in 2022.

• Pound has been both praised and condemned for commercializing the modern Olympics by negotiating hugely lucrative sponsorship and television deals. Rights fees to televise the Games skyrocketed from $33 million US in 1983, when he took over negotiations, to more than $700 million US for the 2004 Games.

• The African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games that Pound mentions in the clip involved 22 nations. They pulled out to protest the participation of New Zealand because its rugby team had recently toured apartheid South Africa. The unrelated Taiwan boycott Pound mentions came after Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau refused to let Taiwan compete under the name "China," which was reserved for the People's Republic of China.

• As a Canadian IOC representative, Pound has become involved in several high-profile scandals involving Canadian athletes. He was instrumental in helping synchronized swimmer Sylvie Fréchette get the gold medal originally denied her because of a judge's typing error. He also fought for Ross Rebagliati to keep his 1998 gold medal after the snowboarder tested positive for marijuana. Pound intervened again to help figure skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier get gold after a judging scandal in 2002.

• Pound's more than a quarter century of work with the IOC has all been as an unpaid volunteer. He has made his living as a tax lawyer at the Montreal firm Stikeman Elliott. Pound is also the author of books about a variety of subjects including the Olympics and tax law. He edits Pound's Tax Case Notes, a review of cases for lawyers, and, as of June 2004, was chancellor of McGill University in Montreal.
Medium: Television
Guest(s): Stephen Brunt, Victor Lachance, Dick Pound, Mark Tewksbury
Host: Tom Harrington
Duration: 8:07

Last updated: September 20, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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