Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has defended the running of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission after chairing his first meeting here today.
IOC Ethics and Compliance Officer Päquerette Girard Zappelli has attempted to fend-off criticism of its independence and strongly implied that no wide-ranging reforms will be implemented soon.
Ban was elected as the first independent chair of the Ethics Commission at the IOC Session in Lima in September.
The 73-year-old South Korean, who served in the top UN position from 2007 until December last year, would not address specific cases discussed today, but defended a system in which the ethics panel can only make recommendations to the IOC Executive Board for a final verdict.
"I am honoured to take this position and committed to work with IOC members to make this organisation more transparent," he told insidethegames following the meeting here today.
"This is what we discussed today and I am very pleased to have good members on the Ethics Commission.
"We will make this body more responsible and increase the integrity of the organisation.
"This is an independent commission and is pretty independent from the normal structures.
"We still refer decisions back to the Executive Board and the Session - we make recommendations because I think the final decision should still be made by the Session."
Ban is joined by four other independent members - including the former President of the Supreme Justice in The Netherlands, Geert Corstens, and China's International Court of Justice representative Xue Hanqin - as well as four IOC members.
Two of these - Fiji's Robin Mitchell and the United States' Angela Ruggiero - are also members of the IOC Executive Board.
There has been a greater focus on this structure in recent months following the latest wave of corruption scandals engulfing the IOC and other sporting bodies.
A total of 33 recommendations for reforms were put forward following a review conducted by the Lausanne-based business school, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), in July.
Ideas raised included granting more "independence" to the Ethics Commission to investigate cases of non-compliance as well as stronger sanctions for non-compliance in cases of conflict of interest.
Several members have also called for greater reforms.
Girard Zappelli, speaking at a special teleconference convened to increase understanding of IOC ethics issues, conceded that conflict of interest rules could be improved.
She also claimed that the IMD survey was responsible for a November 2016 change to make the Ethics Commission chair "independent" from the organisation.
Girard Zappelli fiercely defended other aspects of their system, however, including how she, as a member of the IOC administration, has the power to decide whether a case should proceed to the Ethics Commission level.
"All the facts are investigated," she said.
"I am reporting all of this to the Ethics Commission.
"If the Ethics Commission say that I am not doing enough, I will do more.
"I am totally in their hands.
"IOC Ethics Commission recommendations have always been accepted by the Executive Board."
She later clarified that she had never yet been requested to do more.
Girard Zappelli insisted that IOC President Thomas Bach knows nothing more about an ongoing investigation than "what is in the media".
She also reacted strongly to calls that Ban - as someone who has worked closely with Bach and his predecessor Jacques Rogge while in his UN role - is not really "independent" from the IOC.
It was suggested that other bodies, including football governing body FIFA, have more stringent tests to assess the "Independence" of their Ethics Commission members.
"I would not speculate on the independence of Ethics Commission members such as Ban Ki-moon," Girard Zappelli said.
"What I would stress is, I'm a judge [in France] and, as a Judge, and am therefore paid by the Government.
"Does that mean I am not independent and investigating political people?
"I don't think so.
"If you can think of a case when the EC has not been independent in its decision, I would appreciate it, but not speculation."