A senior Olympic official apologized Thursday for reportedly comparing Russia’s potential doping ban from the 2018 winter games to persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) board member Gian Franco Kasper said he was “truly sorry” for the remark.
The 73-year-old Swiss official had been speaking on the sidelines of an IOC board meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which will host the 2018 games.
He reportedly likened a potential ban on Russia’s participation — as punishment for state-backed doping and cheating at the 2014 Sochi Games — to persecution by the Nazis.
"I'm just against bans or sanctioning of innocent people. Like Mr. Hitler did — all Jews were to be killed, independently of what they did or did not," Kasper was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
"We call this 'sippenhaft' in Germany ?— where the place you come from makes you guilty," he added, according to sports news site Inside the Games.
Kasper, who has also been president of the world governing body for skiing since 1998, later released a statement through an IOC spokesman. “It was an inappropriate and insensitive comment," it read. "I apologize unreservedly for any offence I have caused. I am truly sorry.”
The IOC has been mulling a blanket response after Russia was last year accused by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of systematic, state-sponsored doping, particularly at the last 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
It sidestepped a total blanket ban on Russian teams and athletes at last year’s Rio Olympics, leaving the decision to individual sports federations.