(Reuters) – The United States is in violation of the Olympic charter and potentially the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code, raising questions over whether the 2028 Los Angeles Games should proceed, senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told Reuters on Friday.
When the U.S. Congress last October passed the Olympic Reform Bill it gave lawmakers the power to dissolve the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC) board, setting it on a collision course with the IOC.
The IOC charter prohibits government interference in National Olympic Committees.
There are also problems brewing on the doping front with the U.S. having said it will withdraw WADA funding unless a number of demands are met, including more representation on boards and committees, speedier reforms and greater transparency.
In response to that threat, WADA at its most recent Foundation Board meeting in September said it would consider amending rules to punish stakeholders who pull contributions.
Punishments could include finding delinquent nations non-compliant with the WADA Code and potentially barred from hosting and participating at the Olympic Games.
“We will have to wait and see but at some point if the U.S. becomes a rogue state I think we will start looking at whether the Games in Los Angeles should proceed,” Pound, the IOC’s senior member, told Reuters.
“They are not performing their obligations under the convention and they’re trying to destabilize not only the structure but funding of WADA and that’s not acceptable behaviour especially since they participated in all the decisions for continental funding right from the beginning.”
The U.S. is the largest single contributor to WADA, paying more than $2.7 million into the 2020 budget of $37.4 million, half of which comes from the IOC.
While the WADA dispute remains murky what is clear, according to Pound, is the fact U.S. legislators are in conflict with IOC rules.
Should Congress step in and use its new authority and impose changes within the USOPC it would set up a showdown with the IOC, which in the past has suspended countries including Kuwait over government interference.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has similar rules and used its power to suspend several national associations.
“The Congressional legislation focusing on the U.S. Olympic Committee gives Congress the power to rule over the board of directors is on the statute books and is clearly a violation of the Olympic charter, kind of like it is in Italy at the moment,” Pound added.
“All these things are not just going to go away just because it is the U.S.”
While the IOC has not been afraid to impose sanctions in the past none of those countries possess the influence and financial clout of the U.S. which provides the Olympic body with much of its income through television rights and sponsorships.
With the Los Angles Olympics still seven years away, the U.S., IOC and WADA will have time to sort out differences.
Making sure the COVID-19 delayed Tokyo Olympics come off this summer has all of the IOC’s immediate attention while human rights issue could be in the spotlight ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
But Pound warned that the U.S. and 2028 Los Angeles Games will become an increasing focus.
“Not so much at this point because the principal effort now is trying to make sure that we find a way to have the Games in Tokyo,” said Pound. “But as that picture evolves this kind of thing (2028 Olympics) is going to bubble up to the surface.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)