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Sheikh Ahmad stands down from IOC roles amid Swiss probe

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, one of the most powerful figures in world sport, has today (Monday) elected to temporarily stand down from his roles and responsibilities as an International Olympic Committee member after it emerged he has been charged in Switzerland with forgery.

Swiss newspaper Le Temps said the Kuwaiti official is accused, along with four other others, of plotting a scheme to prove that Kuwait’s former Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, and parliament speaker, Jassem al-Kharafi, were guilty of corruption and plotting a coup.

Two lawyers for different plaintiffs in the case confirmed to the AFP news agency that Sheikh Ahmad had been charged in the affair. Sheikh Ahmad has been an IOC member for 26 years and is currently chairman of the Olympic Solidarity Commission, a body that assigns funds to sports projects globally. He is also president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC). He is set to be re-elected to the latter position next week.

A statement issued by Sheikh Ahmed’s office today read: “Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah strenuously denies any wrongdoing in the legal case which has been brought against him in Switzerland.

“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 case is set to go before a Geneva court next year, with the plaintiffs accused of staging a fictitious arbitration in an effort to legitimise suspicious video recordings Sheikh Ahmad had presented in Kuwait as evidence of corrupt practices by Nasser al-Sabah and al-Kharafi.

Geneva prosecutor Stéphane Grodecki “has filed charges with the (Geneva) Correctional Court against these people for having completely fabricated an arbitration in Switzerland with the goal of lending credibility in Kuwait to contested videos”, Catherine Hohl-Chirazi, a lawyer representing al-Kharafi’s children in the case, told AFP.

A senior member of Kuwait’s ruling family, Sheikh Ahmad in 2014 presented the video recordings to substantiate what he said was material evidence that the two former officials plotted a coup and stole tens of billions of dollars of public funds. However, the recordings were deemed inadmissible after Kuwaiti security agencies said they had been tampered with.

The statement from Sheikh Ahmad’s office added: “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.”