IOC bans former ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad for 15 years

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has been banned from holding any position within the International Olympic Committee for 15 years for ethics violations. The Kuwaiti had served as president of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees.

In a letter seen by Reuters, IOC director general Christophe De Kepper informed all IOC members of the executive board’s decision to sanction the once powerful Sheikh Ahmad over a court case in Switzerland.

“The IOC Executive Board has decided to confirm the seriousness of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah’s breaches of ethical principles, including a betrayal of his IOC member oath, as well as the seriousness of the damage to the IOC’s reputation, which has jeopardised its interests,” De Kepper said in the letter dated 3 May.

“And consequently, to sanction Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah by suspending all the rights, privileges and functions deriving from his IOC membership for a period of 15 years starting from the date of the previous sanction decision by the IOC Executive Board on 27 July 2023.”

Former OPEC Secretary General Sheikh Ahmad was found guilty of forgery and sham arbitration in Switzerland in 2021. The decision was upheld by the Geneva Court of Appeal.

“Consequently, the IOC Ethics Commission is of the opinion that the specific conduct of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah in orchestrating a sham arbitration solely for his own benefit constitutes highly unethical behaviour by an IOC member,” the IOC Ethics Commission said in its decision. It said he had also violated his oath as a member by appealing last year’s IOC Executive Board decision to ban him for three years.

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

Sheikh Ahmad headed the Olympic Council of Asia, founded by his father in Kuwait, before joining the IOC in 1992. A former close ally of the IOC president Thomas Bach around the time the German lawyer ran for office in 2013, the Kuwaiti also headed the Association of National Olympic Committees from 2012-2018.

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

Sheikh Ahmad was banned for three years in 2023 for his alleged involvement in the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) elections, after the IOC approved recommendations from its ethics panel.

He had already been self-suspended as a member of the IOC after being convicted of forgery by a Swiss criminal court in 2021, following which he also stepped down as president of the OCA.

In January, Sheikh Ahmad, his former English lawyer, a Kuwaiti aide and a Geneva-based lawyer had their September 2021 convictions for orchestrating a sham arbitration case a decade ago upheld. Appeals judges in Geneva commuted the sheikh’s prison sentence to two years’ probation.

Sheikh Ahmad was once one of the most influential figures in sports politics, holding key positions in the IOC and being appointed Kuwait’s defence minister last year. He was also in charge of the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity Fund, which provides financial support to athletes and national Olympic committees.

He was also a senior official at world football’s governing body FIFA from 2015-17, until he withdrew his candidacy for re-election when he was implicated by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in a scheme to funnel bribes to football officials in Asia. He denied wrongdoing and was not charged, according to AP.

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