David Owen ©ITG

I can empathise with the enthusiasm emanating from colleagues attending this week’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session at Pyeongchang.

The Russia crisis has provided meatier fare than at recent IOC meetings.

I would probably react in much the same way were I in their shoes.

Looking on from outside the bubble in frigid Britain, however, the excitement does not really travel. 

From here it feels more like a case of the same old people saying the same old things about the same old subjects.

Having monitored a few of these things you can even predict pretty accurately where the constructive criticism will come from and who will remain mute, even given the extent of the problems the Movement is currently facing.

I have been struck once again by how damaging the creation, post-1999, of two classes of IOC member has been, even if it was probably unavoidable.

Basically, any members elected before the magic date of December 11, 1999 can stay until they are 80; those inducted after that date must go at 70.

By my count - and I have difficulty crediting it every time I tot it up - out of 99 current members (100 if you include today's new member Jiří Kejval), 34 still pre-date the cut-off; that is more than one-third of the total nearly two decades on.

And to think the relevant wording in the Olympic Charter is headed "Transitional provisions".

Actually, if you include recent athletes, there are three classes of member.

Tricia Smith made a valuable interjection at the IOC Session in Pyeongchang ©Getty Images
Tricia Smith made a valuable interjection at the IOC Session in Pyeongchang ©Getty Images

Athletes generally get eight years - hence South Korea is the last Session for one regular voice of constructive criticism, Adam Pengilly.

Don't get me wrong: some of the old timers still contribute a very great deal to the Movement when the leadership will let them; and the vast majority still contribute something.

But 34 members in situ for nigh on 20 years or more?

Even though the 115-member limit allows some - favourite IOC word klaxon - "flexibility", I fail to see how that can do anything but slow the ingress of new talent - and, boy, could the IOC use some new talent.

No wonder even this week's Russia-focused proceedings have felt from afar like - all together now - the same old people saying the same old things about the same old subjects.

But wait, there is some good news!

While the octogenarian road-block might make it harder for new talent to make its mark, it does not render this impossible.

I have written before about Nenad Lalović, the Serbian who saved Olympic wrestling and this week joined the IOC's Executive Board.

And on Monday (February 5) another super-talented, independent-minded voice, perhaps a little nervous, but full of integrity, made itself heard in these heady international circles - for those who were paying attention.

Step forward Tricia Smith, a Canadian lawyer who is an Olympic silver medallist and President of her National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Her short intervention - advocating the establishment of rules to take the politics out of punishing national sports bodies for infractions such as copious doping - was in many ways the most refreshing thing to be said all Session, because it was unexpected, but also because her point was simply-expressed and well thought-through.

"Sport is about rules," Smith said

"We all know that as athletes.

"We understand the rules, we accept the rules.

Former skeleton athlete Adam Pengilly has been an active IOC member but his time is coming to an end ©Getty Images
Former skeleton athlete Adam Pengilly has been an active IOC member but his time is coming to an end ©Getty Images

"The nations understand that too and actually when we have tough rules on doping for nations, that protects the athletes that want to be clean in those nations.

"When we are tough on nations, that makes those nations change, otherwise athletes who want to change in those nations don't have the support that they need."

I would add that every effort should be made to allow athletes from penalised nations to prove their innocence and compete as neutrals.

But no matter - the point is it was original, cogent, to-the-point thinking, expressed with clarity and integrity.

Smith has roles within the International Council of Arbitration for Sport and would make, in my view (although she might not thank me for saying so), an ideal person, to weigh whether - and if so how - the under-fire Court of Arbitration for Sport truly needs reform.

An alternative thesis might hold that some of the comments which followed the court's overturning of sanctions against 28 Russian athletes amounted to the ejection of toys from some very lofty prams.

Now for the bad news: Smith will be 61 in April.

She became a member only in 2016, so that leaves her just nine more years.

Yes, she might get one of the recently-introduced four-year extensions - one element of Agenda 2020 that seems to be working very much as intended - although they appear much in demand.

Nonetheless, like one or two others I can think of, she might just be finding her rhythm in IOC terms when her boat is called in.

Now, how about this for a thought?

Granted, we do not know everything that goes on behind the scenes.

Could IOC members be voted out by an independent electoral college? ©Getty Images
Could IOC members be voted out by an independent electoral college? ©Getty Images

Granted too that a key part of a member's role is to represent the IOC in his or her home country.

But could it not be argued that the variation in apparent performance levels by different IOC members justifies a fundamental change in the way members are not so much elected, but retained?

I would be tempted to do away with age limits and instead have members face periodic re-election - maybe after eight years and then every four years - by an independent electoral college composed of a cross-section of individuals with some sort of stake in the success of the Olympic Movement.

College members should serve one term only for at most four years.

Any IOC member polling below a certain level in an anonymous ballot - I’d say under seven out of 10, after all these are hugely prestigious posts and we are entitled to expect excellence - would be out.

Sport, as the woman said, is about rules.

We understand the rules, we accept the rules.