Lassana Palenfo has backed Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah ©Getty Images

A six-month jail sentence reportedly handed to Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah is a "personal attack" - according to ANOC Vice-President Lassana Palenfo.

Sheikh Ahmad was supposedly given the sentence in his native Kuwait for allegedly "insulting the judiciary" as the fierce row between sporting and political bodies in the Gulf country escalated to a new extreme.

The ANOC chief, also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA's ruling Executive Committee, believes he has been made a scapegoat for the current situation which has followed the suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) by the IOC in October.

This was after a new law was passed in the country which allowed greater Government control over sporting Federations - in breach of the IOC's strict standards on non-political interference. 

Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homud Al-Sabah, Kuwait's Minister of State for Youth Affairs, was responsible for the new law which came after his unsuccessful attempt to de-throne long serving International Shooting Sport Federation President Olegario Vázquez Raña last year.

After his defeat Sheikh Salman, who was accused of illegally using his Government position to lobby for votes, blamed allies of Sheikh Ahmad for the outcome and the troubled sporting landscape in the country at present is seen by many as the consequence of this personal row.

Sheikh Ahmad, who is thought to be in Switzerland, has promised to appeal his jail sentence which follows public allegations of money laundering he made three years ago against two Government members.

He was later forced to make a public apology on Kuwaiti television but has insisted it was his right to express his opinion freely.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah believes he has been made a scapegoat for the current political situation in Kuwait
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah believes he has been made a scapegoat for the current political situation in Kuwait ©Getty Images

Palenfo, the Ivorian who is also the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, has backed Sheikh Ahmad, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), with the row showing no signs of a resolution.

Kuwait's relationship with the OCA, which is headquartered in the country, is in severe doubt and there have been allegations that the Government is attempting to stop athletes from competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

"As Vice-President of the Association of National Olympic Committees and President of the Association of the National Olympic Committees of Africa, I would like to express my full support for ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah as he appeals the charges which have been unfairly issued against him in Kuwait," said Palenfo.

"Sadly, these charges appear to be a personal attack against Sheikh Ahmad and have come as a consequence of the Kuwait Olympic Committee being suspended by the IOC on 27 October 2015 as a result of the introduction of sports laws in Kuwait which threatened the autonomy of sport.

"These new laws were introduced following the unfavourable outcome of the International Shooting Sport Federation elections for certain individuals in Kuwait.

"These same individuals have also campaigned for the Kuwaiti government to terminate their agreement with the OCA and have said that no Kuwaiti athletes will be able to compete at international events, including the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"This is a very sad situation which damages the integrity of the sports movement in Kuwait and most importantly has a negative impact on the Kuwaiti athletes.

"Sport should be used to unite the world and not be manipulated for negative or personal means.

"This is a time when the values of sport and Olympism should be protected and promoted. 

"The whole ANOC family is united behind Sheikh Ahmad as he appeals these charges and continues to protect the values of democracy, freedom of speech and the autonomy of sport."

Sheikh Ahmad, who was also fined 1,000 dinar (£2,160/$3,300/€3,000), has also said that his sentence is a "personal attack".

"Unfortunately it is symptomatic of the current relationship between Kuwait and the sports movement," he said.

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