Questions have been raised over the independence of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission chair Ban Ki-Moon after it emerged a top IOC official serves on the Board of a centre led by the South Korean.
Ban was named as the first independent chair of the Ethics Commission at the IOC Session in Lima in September 2017.
The appointment of the former United Nations secretary general was aimed at improving the image of the IOC following accusations of vote-buying in the Olympic Games bidding process and other corruption allegations against senior members.
The IOC Ethics Commission chair is one of five "independent" members of the body, who are said to be "prominent personalities known for their independence of spirit, their competency and their international reputation".
These five people must not be members, Honorary members nor former IOC members.
While Ban is neither of these three, his independence from the IOC has been questioned after it emerged IOC director general Christophe De Kepper serves on the Board of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens.
De Kepper’s presence emerged after Ban has recused himself from the ongoing investigation into Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah due to a "risk of perception of conflict of interest".
"The chair of the IOC Ethics Commission decided to recuse himself from this case due to the risk of perception of conflict of interest," an IOC spokesperson stated.
"His Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens is supported by the Government of Kuwait."
Samuel Schmid, the "longest-serving independent member elected", is serving as the Ethics Commission chair in the case.
The Ban Ki-moon Centre is supported by the Governments of Austria and Kuwait.
The non-profit organisation in Vienna is co-chaired by Ban and Dr. Heinz Fischer, the former President of Austria.
A news release from the Centre confirmed on November 13 that the Kuwaiti Government had donated a further $350,000 (£274,000/€309,000), with the funds received by co-chairs Ban and Fischer, as well as its chief executive Monika Froehler.
The release stated that "Kuwait has been one of the biggest supporters of the Centre and has offered to tentatively host an affiliated office of the Ban Ki-moon Centre in Kuwait".
The Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) have been subject of an IOC suspension since October 2015 as a result of alleged Government interference, although this was provisionally lifted by the IOC in August.
It was claimed this was in "the interest of Kuwaiti athletes and as a gesture of goodwill to recognise the progress accomplished", following positive discussions between the IOC Executive Board and the Government of Kuwait.
The IOC pledged to review the situation regarding the KOC and the progress in the implementation of a roadmap and agreements for fresh elections of all sports organisations in Kuwait, amendments to the country’s sports law and a clear undertaking from the Government of Kuwait not to obstruct the work of the KOC.
According to the Centre’s website, De Kepper joined its Board in February.
Kuwait is also central to the case involving Sheikh Ahmad, who has temporarily suspended himself from his role as ANOC President and an IOC member.
This followed allegations he was one of five people accused of creating fake videos to prove two Kuwaiti Government officials were guilty of coup-plotting and corruption.
The Kuwaiti official, who remains the President of the Olympic Council of Asia and one of the IOC's longest-serving members having joined in 1992, has been asked to present his case to the Ethics Commission at its next meeting in Lausanne on January 11.
He is expected to face a trial in Geneva early next year over the allegations of forgery, allegations Sheikh Ahmad has dismissed as "politically and maliciously motivated".
The IOC Ethics Commission decision on Sheikh Ahmad claimed the fact that he is "considered by a judicial authority as having violated a criminal law constitutes a very serious damage to the Olympic Movement and the IOC’s reputation".
"This damage is proportionate to the importance of his various responsibilities in the Olympic Movement: the higher the responsibilities the higher the impact on the reputation," the Ethics Commission added.
Sheikh Ahmad will temporarily stand aside as President ANOC at the start of the organisation’s General Assembly here following allegations of forgery.
International Swimming Federation head Julio Maglione is then set to chair the meeting owing to his position as senior vice-president, a role he will relinquish during the gathering of the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
The 83-year-old will be replaced by Fiji's Robin Mitchell, who will become Acting President in Sheikh Ahmad's absence.
The exact process following Sheikh Ahmad's decision will be confirmed by the General Assembly.
The planned election, where the key Kuwaiti powerbroker was due to secure a fresh four-year term, has been postponed and will not take place.
"The question is groundless as Ban Ki-moon has declared a conflict of interest and is not handling the file of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and Christophe de Kepper is not having any role within the IOC Ethics Commission," an IOC spokesperson stated when contacted by insidethegames.
"To remind you, the NOC of Kuwait is also not suspended anymore."