FILE - The Feb. 6, 2013 file photo shows the President of the International Ski Federation Gian Franco Kasper watching a medal ceremony after the men's super-G, at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria. IOC board member Kasper apolo
Luca Bruno, file
March 16, 2017

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) IOC board member Gian Franco Kasper apologized Thursday for comparing a ban on Russia from the 2018 Olympics to persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

''It was an inappropriate and insensitive comment,'' Kasper, the long-time International Ski Federation president, said in a statement.

The 73-year-old Swiss official had been speaking on the sidelines of an IOC board meeting in 2018 host city Pyeongchang. Kasper compared a potential Olympic ban for Russia - as punishment for state-backed doping and cheating at the 2014 Sochi Games - with indiscriminate persecution by the Nazis.

''I apologize unreservedly for any offence I have caused. I am truly sorry,'' Kasper said in the statement released by the IOC.

The IOC has set up two commissions to verify evidence - detailed in investigations appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency - of Russia's doping program before deciding on the country's Olympic participation.

Last July, the IOC board declined to impose a blanket ban on Russian teams and athletes competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Instead, the decision was left with the sports federations in a chaotic two weeks of legal debate and hearings before the games.

Kasper was not a board member at the time. He has since been promoted to represent winter sports on the IOC's policy-making committee.

The two IOC commissions, investigating claims of a Russian doping conspiracy and prosecuting disciplinary cases against individual athletes, are expected to work for several more months.

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