Olympics- Powerful Sheikh Ahmad temporarily leaves IOC roles

BERLIN (Reuters) - Powerful International Olympic Committee member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said on Monday he had temporarily stepped down from his roles in the Olympic body amid an ongoing legal case in Switzerland.

FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait takes part in a ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The Kuwaiti IOC member heads Olympic Solidarity -- the multi-million dollar IOC purse that funds sports projects globally. He is also head of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Sheikh Ahmad did not give any details of the case against him but denied any wrongdoing. Kuwaiti media reports said the case was linked to a domestic issue.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“Therefore, Sheikh Ahmad has today decided to step aside temporarily from his roles and responsibilities as an IOC member and Chairman of Olympic Solidarity commission, pending the outcome of the IOC Ethics commission hearing.”

“Sheikh Ahmad is willing and ready to attend the hearing as and when decided.”

The IOC said its ethics chief had been informed of the Sheikh’s temporary departure from his positions on the committee.

“The IOC can confirm that the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer received a letter from Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah in line with the content of the official statement issued by his office this morning,” an IOC official said.

There were no details regarding the time frame of the ethics investigation.

The Kuwaiti, who has been an IOC member since 1992, is a close ally of IOC President Thomas Bach and was among his supporters in the run-up to his election in 2013.

Sheikh Ahmad is up for re-election as ANOC President later this month.

A high-ranking member of Kuwait’s royal family and former Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Sheikh Ahmad has been involved in sports administration for decades.

But in 2017, after almost a decade as one of soccer’s main power brokers, he stepped away from his involvement in world football amid a U.S Department of Justice probe into the affairs of the sport’s world ruling body FIFA.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann,; Editing by Mitch Phillips/Ed Osmond