PtG Article 29.11.2018

Sheikh Ahmad steps aside from ANOC presidency following forgery allegations

ANOC presidential election postponed after ANOC general assembly reluctantly approves the self-suspension of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

At the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Associations (ANOC) held in Tokyo this week, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah pleaded delegates to let him stand aside as ANOC president while he is being investigated for allegations of forgery in a Swiss court.

“Some of you will say that’s a personal problem, it’s not something related to the sport, nothing about sport, nothing about corruption. This is why, I ask your permission and your support,” Al-Sabah said to the 1,400 NOC representatives.

Kevan Gosper, chairman of the ANOC electoral commission, underlined that the sheikh had chosen to step aside because of ‘personal matters’ that he intends to have concluded and resolved in the near future, and urged member representatives to grant the sheikh his wish.

Since Al-Sabah was the only candidate at the election, the electoral commission recommended that the reelection was adjourned to a later stage.

But a number of delegates, mostly representing African and Asian NOCSs, voiced their strong and partly emotional discontent with this step, arguing that if the allegations against him had nothing to do with his ANOC involvement, he could assume the position of ANOC president.

Gosper expressed his understanding of their views but underlined that Al-Sabah had taken his decision under great consideration.

“We are all loyal to him, we admire him. We stand in awe of him. This is a very, very intelligent man, who has given his view after a lot of consideration and a lot of consultation,” Gosper said.

“We are family”

No one from the floor questioned this evaluation. On the whole, the air was thick with affection despite the criminal charge and the sheik, too, had nothing but praise for his colleagues when he briefly returned to the assembly hall to address them one last time before his IOC and self-imposed service leave.  

“I never thought one percent that I would not have your support because I know – together, we made this success story. We are family,” he said.

The current senior vice-president Robin Mitchel will now take over as interim president.

The assembly also discussed the composition of a newly-formed Independent Ethics Commission and went through the 2017 finances. Both were approved despite some delegates’ critical remarks about belated information to the ANOC members. 

Moreover, the status of the loan that ANOC provided to former EOC president Patrick Hickey, so he could meet his bail requirements after being arrested in Rio during the 2016 Olympics, was also brought into question by Alfred Emmanuel, secretary general of the NOC of St. Lucia, who wanted to know if there were any plans to repay it.

“What efforts have been made to recoup this loan at this point in time,” Emmanuel asked the ANOC auditor, Guiseppe Angelo Caloia. He also wanted to know if an effort to contact Hickey had been made.

“Have we contacted Mr. Hickey and his people to find out whether they are trying to raise the fund to try to repay ANOC?”

Caloia provided no answer to this.

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