World Triathlon President Marisol Casado is facing calls to resign less than two weeks before her bid for re-election after being accused of "gross and multiple violations of the values, principles and regulations" of the organisation and the Olympic Movement.
insidethegames can reveal four members of the World Triathlon Tribunal - set up in 2015 to judge appeals and other disputes from members and athletes, particularly in disciplinary matters - filed an official legal complaint to the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) regarding the conduct of Casado and two other senior officials at the global governing body.
The group behind it has now called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission to investigate the claims after ASOIF ruled it did not have jurisdiction.
Casado, secretary general Antonio Arimany and Legal and Constitution Committee chairman Bernard St-Jean "should no longer have any role to play in the functions they occupy" according to the complaint, seen by insidethegames.
The World Triathlon President told insidethegames the Tribunal's "accusations of wrongdoing, illegal behaviour and corruption are simply false".
The Tribunal members have reported the three officials "for their unsuccessful strong-arm attempts to bypass a World Triathlon Tribunal decision and to silently impose on the Congress an improper change in the judicial system of World Triathlon, and for their attempt to eliminate and replace the current World Triathlon Tribunal members by corrupting the election process for the next Congress".
"These above-described acts, committed by the respondents as authors and/or accomplices, are extremely serious and the respondents, eager to hold on to power at any cost and in gross and multiple violation of the values, principles and rules of World Triathlon, ASOIF and the Olympic Movement, in particular with regard to ethics and governance, which they claim to want to defend, should no longer have any role to play in the functions they occupy," the complaint stated.
"Their actions were perpetrated jointly in order to deceive or attempt to deceive the Congress, some Executive Board members and the Tribunal members to such an extent, that an intervention at the level of the WT Presidency, management and WT Legal and Constitution Committee is necessary."
The complaint was accompanied by documents, including correspondence between the Tribunal and the three senior officials, but Casado said the "lack of evidence of their accusation is shocking, and coming from a Tribunal, is a highly irregular behaviour that should be condemned".
The intervention from the Tribunal, an independent body which assumed responsibility for adjudicating on violations of the World Triathlon Code of Ethics and the safeguarding and anti-harassment policy, comes prior to the Presidential election scheduled for November 29.
"The complaint against myself, our secretary general and the chair of the Legal and Constitution Committee was sent to ASOIF and the Ethics Commission of the IOC, and to all NFs (National Federations) Presidents, but not to any of us, in a clear attempt to jeopardise the right of defence," Casado added.
"It is absolutely clear for us that there is an intention to interfere in the elections, to be held on November 29th.
"It is extremely sad to think that there are some individuals within the World Triathlon organisation for whom personal ambition takes priority over the good of the sport."
Casado, a member of the IOC and who has been World Triathlon President since 2008, is facing a challenge from Triathlon Denmark head Mads Freund.
The Spaniard will lose her IOC membership if she is defeated in the election, set to be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint centres on three internal issues at World Triathlon which have arisen this year.
The Tribunal claims Casado, Arimany and St-Jean actively tried to overturn a decision it made following a protest by athletes during a Panamerican Cup race in Cuba in February.
The competition jury dismissed a protest from some athletes, who complained several competitors had reduced their swimming course by cutting the first buoy, following the event.
National Federations in Luxembourg and Ireland made a successful appeal to the Tribunal, a decision which it claims the World Triathlon management was unhappy about.
According to the legal document filed by the Tribunal members, Casado, Arimany and St-Jean "made numerous attempts to have this decision overturned and to have it retired by other persons internally, in a dishonest manner and in violation of World Triathlon procedures and the most basic rules of governance".
The case triggered a dispute between the Tribunal and World Triathlon, which then began talks on creating a "cassation panel" to appeal decisions from the disciplinary body.
Under World Triathlon's statutes, Tribunal decisions can only be contested at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The establishment of the cassation panel, which the Tribunal claims is "illegal", has been included in proposed constitution changes due to be submitted to the Congress later this month.
The Tribunal members also allege Casado, Arimany and St-Jean have tried to "remove" them from their positions by not presenting them for re-election at the Congress, claiming the trio has tried to "manipulate" the process.
Citing hearings involving the members and their respective National Federations, the complaint claims Tribunal chair Philippe Renz, Nigeria's Ize Ukpoma Matebese, Timo Pennanen of Finland and American Kevin Sullivan "were not aware they were up for re-election".
All four had expressed a willingness to continue but they are set to be replaced at the Congress as none have been put forward by World Triathlon.
"The respondents' silence and attempts to kick the issue to the sidelines indicates that their illicit manipulation of the election process was intended to get rid of the current members of the Tribunal," the complaint added.
"This surreptitious manipulation is revolting to the Tribunal, which has voluntarily invested years of energy and time, not only through the decisions they have made but also in projects to improve the legal and jurisdictional structure of World Triathlon, for the benefit and future of the international triathlon community."
This claim has been disputed by Casado, who insisted World Triathlon had followed the correct process.
"World Triathlon has received nominations for the election of members of the World Triathlon Tribunal, including from the National Federation of one of the members, that has decided to present as candidate someone else," she said.
"Any Federation had the right and opportunity to present their candidates for this election on due time - some did so, and some others didn't."