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Olympic Game of Thrones: Bach's IOC suspends Sheikh Ahmad until after presidential election

One of the biggest crime stories in the Olympic world takes another surprising turn. The Executive Board of the IOC has suspended the highly influential Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah as an IOC member for three years. The consequences are hard to foresee. It has the potential to blow up the Olympic family.

From allies to enemies? Sheikh Ahmad, Thomas Bach. (Photo: ANOC)

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, a member of Kuwait's ruling family and currently Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister of the Gulf state, had at the beginning of July diked the election of his brother Talal Al-Fahad Al-Sabah as President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) - allegedly by corrupt means that had dominated the OCA for decades. The IOC had interfered in the election campaign in a hitherto little-known way and tried to stop Ahmad and Talal. In Kuwait, all this has long been a state affair.

The thrilling saga of Sheikh Ahmad, the Olympic Game of Thrones, had taken another bizarre turn in 2021 with his criminal conviction to a prison sentence in Switzerland. (Here you can read a summary of the first four decades of Ahmad's scandalous and sometimes tumultuous IOC career:

Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Al-Sabah sentenced to prison
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah has been sentenced to prison. Our author has observed the Kuwaiti Sheikh for many years and has been threatened by the Sheikh’s aides several times. He describes the methods that brought Ahmad to power and the implications of the conviction for Al-Sabah and the Olympic system.

Since then, it had become somewhat quiet about Ahmad, at least at the highest IOC level, also in the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), but not in Asian sport under the umbrella of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). In the Al-Sabah clan, which had ruled Kuwait for more than a century, Ahmad climbed the ladder again and enjoyed renewed favour. So he became a minister again, as he had many years before. He enjoyed even more privileges - and the next sports-political clash occurred very quickly.

Thomas Bach and the Sheikh - the Moscow alliance

The IOC had basically covered up the machinations of Sheikh Ahmad, whose father was already an IOC member and OCA president, for three decades. Sheikh Ahmad and IOC President Thomas Bach supported each other for many years. According to Ahmad, the duo made a pact on the sidelines of the 2001 IOC session in Moscow, the gist of which obviously was that Bach would become IOC President first, supported by Ahmad, then the Sheikh.

  • Part 1 of the deal was fulfilled in Buenos Aires in 2013, when Bach was crowned IOC boss with the active help of Ahmad.
  • Part 2 of the deal will no longer be possible to implement, because the next presidential election is scheduled for 2025 - and Sheikh Ahmad is now suspended by the Bach-loving IOC Executive Board until 2026.

Here are three documents from Lausanne.

  • The first one is the Decision Proposal für IOC's EB. Confidential, of course, that's why I published the document exclusively on my website:
  • The second one is the letter of IOC's Director General Christophe De Kepper to the leaders of the Olympic family.
  • Number three is the Decision of the Ethics Commission.

It is rare that the IOC publishes such documents (number 2 and 3). It is worth reading the Ethics Commission's frantically written paper. And don't forget: This Ethics Commission is not independent, even if they call it so. The CECO Pâquerette Girard Zappelli is part of the IOC's inventory.

A ban? Sheikh Ahmad will not let this go. Especially as the IOC leadership declared at the same time that it would not accept the result of the latest OCA election. This means that sooner or later the Sheikh's younger brother Talal will also lose the OCA presidency. OCA has been firmly in the hands of the Al-Sabah clan since its foundation in 1982: first the father of the two Sheikhs presided, then for thirty years Sheikh Ahmad, and since a few days Sheikh Talal.

OCA has its headquarters in Kuwait and has so far been led by a Kuwaiti director general who has another major role in the Olympic cosmos, as the head of the federation with the most Olympic decisions: Husain Al-Musallam has been president of World Aquatics (WA), formerly known as FINA, since 2021. He was confirmed in office for an absurd eight years at the WA congress in Fukuoka this week.

Al-Musallam has been Sheikh Ahmad's henchman for half an eternity and as such has been involved in numerous dubious dealings.

The duo made headlines worldwide in 2017, for example, when they were exposed as bribe-payers in one of FIFA's criminal trials in the US: as co-conspirator #2 and co-conspirator #3.

I had shortly afterwards, together with Craig Lord, exposed in DER SPIEGEL and The Times of London, further corrupt machinations of Al-Musallam and Sheikh Ahmad in the OCA empire:

Here is an audio file that we published exclusively at the time: Husain as OCA director general negotiating a sponsorship contract ... explaining who is allowed to fork out what percentage.

The tablecloth between Ahmad Al-Sabah and his once closest servant Al-Musallam has long since been cut. At the OCA congress in Bangkok at the beginning of July, it came to an absurd head when Al-Musallam ran for the presidency against Ahmad's brother Talal. The IOC favoured Al-Musallam. But he was defeated by 20 votes to 24.

Danger for many Olympic world federations

Less than three weeks later, the IOC leadership suspended the elder of the two sports sheikhs with historically unparalleled speed. The matter is a state affair in Kuwait and is sending shockwaves through the Olympic world. The consequences are incalculable.

Both Ahmad Al-Sabah and Husain Al-Musallam have internal information that could bring down the IOC house of cards - and drag numerous Olympic world federations into the abyss. Swimming, handball, football, everywhere Ahmad Al-Sabah has pulled strings, manipulated elections, influenced sports competitions and bought votes according to records. He also played a decisive role in the installation of IJF President Marius Vizer as SportAccord President in 2013.

Always, Al-Musallam was his master mind and enforcer. There are numerous articles on this in this theatre, often obliquely exclusive.

Other staff from OCA headquarters are also the focus of judicial bodies around the world. Al-Musallam's predecessor as OCA director general had already been declared an persona non grata by the IOC for corruption in 2004.

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