IOC imposes 15-year ban on former Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait

FILE - ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait, left, listens to IOC President Thomas Bach, right, addressing delegates during the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. The IOC has suspended former Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait for 15 years after his conviction for forgery was upheld on appeal this year at a Swiss criminal appeals court. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File) (Petr David Josek, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

GENEVA – The IOC suspended former Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait for 15 years on Saturday after his conviction for forgery was upheld on appeal this year at a Swiss criminal appeals court.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah’s sanction for “a betrayal of his IOC Member’s oath, as well as the seriousness of the damage to the IOC’s reputation” was approved by the Olympic body’s executive board on a recommendation from its ethics commission.

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The 15-year suspension starts from the date of his previous ban for a separate issue of unethical conduct, in an Olympic Council of Asia election. That was a three-year sanction imposed on July 27 last year.

The sheikh, who turns 61 on the day after the Paris Games close in August, will be 74 when the latest punishment expires. The Olympic Charter also allows the annual meeting of IOC members to expel a colleague for betraying their oath.

“The IOC Ethics Commission notes that during this period of suspension, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah will not fulfill the necessary ethical criteria to be proposed for re-election at the end of his current term,” the published ruling noted, suggesting his IOC career is effectively over.

Sheikh Ahmad led the Olympic Council of Asia, that was created by his father in Kuwait, before joining the IOC in 1992. He was a longtime close ally of current IOC president Thomas Bach, whose election in 2013 he campaigned for.

The Kuwaiti royal “self-suspended” as an IOC member after being indicted in Geneva in 2018. He also stepped aside as leader of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC.

In January, Sheikh Ahmad, his English former lawyer, a Kuwaiti aide and a lawyer based in Geneva had their convictions from September 2021 upheld on charges linked to orchestrating a sham arbitration case a decade ago.

The appeal court judges in Geneva changed the sheikh’s prison sentence to a suspended sentence of two years deferred for a probationary period of three years.

In 2013, he presented video footage to Kuwaiti authorities alleging to show a former prime minister, Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, and a former speaker in parliament, Jassim al-Kharafi, discussing a coup. They could have faced the death penalty for treason.

Lawyers for Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed and the al-Kharafi family filed a criminal complaint in Geneva relating to the arbitration case. The arbitration which was later judged to be fake had been presented to the High Court in London as part of a process that sought to verify the videos.

Sheikh Ahmad also was a senior FIFA official from 2015-17 until withdrawing his candidacy for re-election when implicated by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in steering bribes to soccer officials in Asia. He denied wrongdoing and was not indicted.


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