KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, arguably the most influential man in the Olympic movement after IOC president Thomas Bach, has stood down from his roles with the International Olympic Committee member after being charged in Switzerland with forgery.
The case, which has been referred to the ethics commission of the IOC, stretches back many years and has already landed Sheikh Ahmad in embarrassing difficulties in Kuwait where he is a member of the ruling royal family but not necessarily always on the right side of internal wrangling.
Sheikh Ahmad is treading a highly delicate line in the world of Olympic sport since he is the only nomination next week to be re-elected in Tokyo as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees. He has been an IOC member for 26 years and is also president of the revenue-sharing Olympic Solidarity Commission and of the Olympic Council of Asia.
This is not the first time Sheikh Ahmad has come to the attention of the ethics department of the IOC.
Last year he was cleared of any wrongdoing after a United States Department of Justice document apparently identified him in a case involving Guam football association head Richard Lai, who had admitted charges of receiving nearly $1m in football bribes.
The Kuwaiti was also cleared by the ethics committee of the Olympic Council of Asia however, amid the furore, he resigned as a member of the governing council of the world football federation FIFA.
Sheikh Ahmad’s latest troubles concern his alleged involvement in a scheme to prove that Kuwait’s former Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, and parliament speaker Jassem al-Kharafi had been guilty of corruption and plotting a coup.
Charges against the pair were thrown out in the spring of 2015 by the Kuwait prosecutor’s office. The evidence provided against them by Sheikh Ahmad was based on computerised documents and film records which were dismissed by the court as fabrications.
Subsequently Sheikh Ahmad, on Kuwait Television, delivered a formal, public apology not only to the two accused but to his uncle the Emir and to the Crown Prince.
A subsequent forgery case concerning the recordings is due to go before a Geneva court next year with Sheikh Ahmad among the accused.
In a statement of denial he said: “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.”
Hence he was stepping aside temporarily from his IOC roles.