Tokyo: One of the most influential figures in international sport on Wednesday officially stepped down from a powerful Olympic body as he fights forgery charges in Switzerland.
Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah had already announced he was “temporarily” stepping aside from his IOC duties and asked not to be re-elected president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
“I am confident I am innocent. I trust the court of justice in Switzerland ... I know I am innocent. I am sure about that and I will follow through on my trust in the court in Switzerland,” he told delegates.
“I will decide to step aside - of my own will - for a while and to come back to you stronger,” added the Kuwaiti powerbroker.
But there was last-minute drama at the gathering in Tokyo as several representatives pushed for Shaikh Ahmad- the only candidate for ANOC president - to be re-elected anyway.
In chaotic scenes, delegate after delegate spoke to defend Shaikh Ahmad, arguing that he had become embroiled in a political affair that had nothing to do with sport and that was being played out in the courts.
After an unscheduled last-minute intervention from Shaikh Ahmad, delegates finally agreed to postpone the election for president while he sorts out his legal issues.
Officials admitted this was a “unique” situation and there was nothing in the organisation’s constitution to deal with such a case.
A long-time IOC member seen as a close ally of President Thomas Bach, Shaikh Ahmad is accused of orchestrating a complex forgery scheme linked to his efforts to prove his native country’s former prime minister is guilty of corruption and plotting a coup.
The aim of the alleged forgery, according to a Swiss charge sheet seen by AFP, was to legitimise suspicious video recordings Shaikh Ahmad had presented in Kuwait as evidence of corrupt practices by ex-premier Shaikh Nasser Mohammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah and former parliament chief Jassem Al Khorafi.
The case against Shaikh Ahmad, a nephew of Kuwait’s ruler, Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, is set to go before a court in Geneva next year.