Richard Pound has been accused of "clairvoyance" by the IOC ©ITG

A row between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Richard Pound, its most senior member, escalated today after the Canadian repeated his criticisms of the potential plan to lift Russia's suspension in time for the Closing Ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018.

Russian athletes are competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia due to a "systemic manipulation" of the anti-doping system at Sochi 2014.

The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended and its President Alexander Zhukov has had his membership of the IOC temporarily put on hold. 

This ban will be lifted before the Closing Ceremony, however, if the IOC judge Russia have acted within the "letter and spirit" of their participation requirements.

Pound, a frequent critic of the actions of IOC President Thomas Bach and his ruling Executive Board since the allegations about Sochi 2014 emerged in 2016, told German broadcaster ZDF he does not plan to attend the Closing Ceremony on February 25 in protest against the decision.

He considers it a "gross error" which would send the "wrong signal". 

This prompted IOC Presidential spokesman Mark Adams to accuse him of making "clairvoyant" comments because Pound informed the IOC travel agent of his plans to travel home on February 23 in October - two months before the Russian decision was announced.

"When I learned about the possibility that the Russians could enter the stadium with their flag and their uniform during the Closing Ceremony, I decided I will not stay," Pound told ZDF.

"This is the only way I can protest."

Mark Adams, left, accused Richard Pound of
Mark Adams, left, accused Richard Pound of "clairvoyance" after claiming he had made plans last October to return home from Pyeongchang 2018 two days before the Closing Ceremony on February 25 ©IOC

Adams responded by pointing-out today how it "is interesting to note that Mr Pound arranged his return flight in October, to come back on the 23rd of February, which is two days before the Closing Ceremony".

He added: "So I would say his comments are prescient if not somewhat clairvoyant, I think, to have booked his return before the Closing Ceremony in October".

This marks the latest tensions between Pound, a former IOC vice-president, and his colleagues after an exchange with Argentinian member Gerardo Werthein at the IOC Session last week.

Werthein, considered a close ally of the IOC leadership and who often speaks on their behalf, accused Pound of believing "what is right is what he agrees with" and of using press statements to "create doubt and discredit work being done".

Pound dismissed this as an "extraordinary attack" and claimed he was not being "disrespectful" by raising different opinions from the "all-powerful Executive Board" but merely speaking-out because his private concerns had not been listened to.

Bach interjected to point out that Pound had missed opportunities to voice his concerns at IOC Sessions in Lausanne and Lima, when the situation was not addressed in detail.

Pound claims he had written several letters to Bach, including one on January 3 in which he said that the IOC response "sends the wrong message" and suggested they demand Russia acknowledge the scale of the doping scandal and stop appealing any sanctions issued for their ban to be lifted.

"He’s a longstanding member of the IOC, the doyen, and he’s perfectly entitled to his views," Adams replied today when asked if they were getting frustrated by Pound's criticisms.

"I think we saw in the Session that he is in a minority of, if not one, then a very small minority.

"That’s fine, we like criticism, it was a very open debate about this issue and, it was good to hear what he had to say. 

"I am sure Mr Pound would agree with the ideas of democracy - It is important that individuals have a voice and are listened to, but the large majority in this case was listened to."

Russian athletes marched under the IOC flag at the Opening Ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018, but could be free to use their own one at the Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images
Russian athletes marched under the IOC flag at the Opening Ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018, but could be free to use their own one at the Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images

Pound and Britain's Adam Pengilly were the only IOC members to abstain rather than vote in support of a measure backing the IOC December decision on Russia.

Pound has since said that "history will be the judge" as to appropriateness of his stance.

"My initial reservations were, indeed, for departure on the 23rd, but I have no obligations - that were mentioned during the Session - that would have prevented me from extending, especially if the men's hockey team were to be doing well, even without the NHL (National Hockey League) players," he told insidethegames today. 

"That possibility was effectively precluded by the all but certainty that the Russians will participate in the Closing Ceremony, which is covered in my letter, in which I said I would not participate.

"I would not say that I am frustrated by the criticism - more disappointed by the shoot-the-messenger approach to substantive issues and proposed solutions to a serious situation. 

"In the long run, I do not much care if I am the only person with the opinion I expressed, since I believe it is correct.  

"The decision has been made notwithstanding my opinion and history will be the judge as to its appropriateness."