LAUSANNE: Former Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahad al-Sabah has been suspended for 15 years by the International Olympic Committee over a conviction for forgery which had been upheld on appeal earlier this year by a Swiss appeals court.

The Kuwaiti former head of OPEC was charged by the IOC over “a betrayal of his IOC member’s oath, as well as the seriousness of the damage to the IOC’s reputation.” His ban was was approved by the Olympic body’s executive board on a recommendation from its ethics commission.

This was not the first time Sheikh Ahmed had come to the attention of the ethics department of the IOC.

In November 2017 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.

Sheikh Ahmed: Olympic persona non grata

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.

Sheikh Ahmed, 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.

Reuters quoted IOC director-general Christophe De Kepper as saying: “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 jeopardized its interests.

“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.

“The IOC added: “The IOC Ethics Commission notes that d”During this period of suspension, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Sabah will not fulfill the necessary ethical criteria to be proposed for re-election at the end of his current term.”

Sheikh Ahmed 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, for whose election in 2013 he was a highly significant campaigner.

He was also a member between 2015 and 2017 of the governing council of world football federation FIFA.

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 Ahmed, 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.

The origins of the case reached back to 2013 when he presented the Kuwaiti authorities with video footage alleging to show former prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah and former parliamentary speaker Jassim al-Kharafi discussing a coup. They could have faced the death penalty for treason.

Lawyers for Sheikh Nasser 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.