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IOC Drug Czar Offers Resignation -- May 24, 2000

By Stephen Wilson
AP Sports Writer

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, May 24. PRINCE Alexandre de Merode has offered his resignation as chairman of the IOC's medical commission after more than 30 years in the high-profile post.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed today that the Belgian delegate has sent a letter to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch submitting his resignation from the medical panel.

But IOC spokesman Franklin Servan-Schreiber said the offer was not accepted and it was still unclear whether De Merode might change his mind. "He has offered his resignation but the president has written back to him and the situation is still changing," Servan-Schreiber said. "We still don't know what the resolution will be."

The spokesman said that if De Merode leaves, he will be replaced as head of the panel by another Belgian, Jacques Rogge, who has been serving as vice chairman.

De Merode was in Europe and unavailable for immediate comment. No details of his reasons for offering to resign were immediately disclosed. Servan-Schreiber mentioned only that he had cited "changing times".

De Merode has headed the medical commission since it was formed in 1967 in response to concerns over doping in Olympic sports.

De Merode, who turned 66 on Wednesday, has been an IOC member since 1964 and is one of the few delegates accorded lifetime membership. He served on the IOC executive board, and as an IOC vice president, for most of the 1980s and early 1990s.

But De Merode's role has diminished significantly since the founding last year of the World Anti-doping Agency. The agency, headed by IOC vice president Dick Pound of Canada, is coordinating a global out-of-competition testing program for banned performance enhancing drugs.

Critics have accused De Merode of being out of touch with the doping problem and of being involved in alleged coverups of positive tests at the Olympics. He was at the center of controversy over the shredding of drug test results at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.