Sheikh Ahmad steps aside as IOC member pending outcome of Ethics Commission hearing

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has stepped aside temporarily from his roles and responsibilities as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member

LAUSANNE, 20 NOVEMBER 2018 (INSIDE THE GAMES) – Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has stepped aside temporarily from his roles and responsibilities as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and chairman of the Olympic Solidarity Commission, pending the outcome of an IOC Ethics Commission hearing over the alleged forging of videos.

It comes with the official due to be re-elected unopposed as President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) at their General Assembly in Tokyo next week, on November 27 and 28.

insidethegames understands that Sheikh Ahmad, also the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President, is still scheduled to attend the event.

In a statement sent to insidethegames, an IOC spokesperson said: “The IOC can confirm that the chief ethics and compliance officer (Paquerette Girard Zappelli) received a letter from Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah in line with the content of the official statement issued by his office this morning.”

Last week, Sheikh Ahmad’s office said he will vigorously defend his “innocence and integrity” after legal action was launched in Switzerland regarding the matter.

The case was reportedly brought against him earlier this month, according to Geneva newspaper Le Temps.

Sheikh Ahmad and four co-defendants – three lawyers and one other person – are said to have been accused.

The Swiss newspaper claimed prosecutor Stéphane Grodecki has accused the defendants of creating fake videos as part of a plot against two Kuwaiti Government officials.

The 55-year-old, considered as one of the most influential officials in sports governance, has now said he will put his work with the IOC on hold until he has been investigated.

“Sheikh Ahmad has today decided to step aside temporarily from his roles and responsibilities as an IOC member and chairman of the Olympic Solidarity Commission, pending the outcome of an IOC Ethics Commission hearing,” a statement from his office reads.

“Sheikh Ahmad is willing and ready to attend the hearing as and when decided.

“Sheikh Ahmad has every confidence and trust in the Swiss courts and IOC Ethics Commission’s impartial due processes and that he will be completely exonerated.

“It should be remembered that Sheikh Ahmad has had the honour of being an IOC member for 26 years and he fully intends to continue serving the IOC again at the earliest opportunity.”

Sheikh Ahmad allegedly made public comments against two Government members back in 2012 – former Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and its former Speaker Jassem Mohammad Abdul-Mohsem Al-Karafi.

He allegedly claimed the pair had laundered money, misused public funds and plotted to topple the Government, saying his evidence was based on computerised documents and film records.

Sheikh Ahmad secured a Swiss Court ruling to prove that the voices of the two officials heard in his recordings were genuine but the allegations were dismissed by a court in Kuwait as “fabrications”.

He was eventually cleared of all charges by Kuwait’s Supreme Court after he was accused of insulting the judiciary, which had initially led to a six-month suspended prison sentence being issued.

Sheikh Ahmad has always denied wrongdoing and never spent any time in jail.

It has now been claimed by Le Temps that the arbitration hearing held in Switzerland in 2014 over whether the tapes were authentic or not was held under false circumstances.

“Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah strenuously denies any wrongdoing in the legal case which has been brought against him in Switzerland,” the statement from his office adds.

“It is clear that the whole matter is based on allegations that are maliciously motivated by political factions within Kuwait since 2012 and the matter has already been reviewed and closed in Kuwait.

“While Sheikh Ahmad has complete confidence that the Swiss courts will also find him innocent of all charges, he fully supports and welcomes the IOC Ethics Commission’s investigation into this matter, in line with the IOC Code of Ethics.

“Sheikh Ahmad does not wish for the case into these politically motivated allegations to distract attention away from the excellent work carried out by his colleagues in the Olympic Movement.”

The OCA has now cleared Sheikh Ahmad of allegations of wrongdoing for the second consecutive year, after the body’s Ethics Committee was said to have “thoroughly reviewed” the current case at its meeting on August 17.

They “cleared the OCA President of any wrongdoing in relation to the OCA Constitution, OCA Rules or OCA Code of Ethics”, the Sheikh’s office said.

The official was also identified in a United States Department of Justice document in April in a case involving Guam’s Richard Lai.

Lai pleaded guilty to charges of receiving nearly $1 million (£777,000/€875,000) in bribes connected to football governing body, FIFA.

OCA director general and ANOC director of the Presidential Office, Husain Al-Musallam, was also identified.

Both officials have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed that Lai was only paid for work done as an OCA employee.

Sheikh Ahmad did resign from all footballing roles including his membership of the FIFA Council.

He was exonerated of wrongdoing in this matter by the OCA at their 2017 General Assembly in Ashgabat, where officials gave the Kuwaiti two standing ovations.

This was replicated at last year’s ANOC General Assembly, where he received a round of applause from delegates in Prague.

It followed a speech by Uruguay’s Julio Maglione, who had been announced as ANOC first vice-president as a replacement for Ireland’s Patrick Hickey, in which he claimed to have taken “requisite action” to “dispel any doubts” about Sheikh Ahmad’s integrity.

The case was referred to the IOC Ethics Commission but they have yet to report publicly..

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