Autoklub of the Czech Republic President Jan Šťovíček claimed the election mistakes were "really obvious" ©Jan Šťovíček

The Czech Olympic Committee (COC) has lost four of its five vice-presidents after a court ruled that the organisation’s elections were "contrary to electoral regulations."

The Municipal Court in Prague has declared the election of the four officials at last year’s delayed COC General Assembly as invalid, as reported by Czech newspaper Hospodárske Noviny.

The ruling means that Roman Kumpošt, Libor Varhaník, Zdeněk Haník and Milan Hnilička have lost their positions as vice-presidents.

COC President Jiří Kejval, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who was elected unopposed at the General Assembly staged in June 2021, has kept his place along with Filip Šuman, who is now the only vice-president left standing on the organisation’s Executive Board.

Two cases were heard at the Municipal Court, with the judge ruling in favour of Autoklub of the Czech Republic President Jan Šťovíček’s claims over the validity of the vice-president elections.

The other legal challenge was made by Zdenek Ertl, chairman of Association of Sporting Federations, who alleged that the entire electoral meeting was futile but that was rejected by the court in the Czech capital.

According to Hospodárske Noviny, Šťovíček and Ertl both accused Kejval, who has been in charge since 2012, of authoritative practices and undemocratic conduct and claimed that the COC’s statutes do not comply with the IOC’s Olympic Charter.

Šťovíček was defeated in the elections by Olympic ice hockey gold medallist and three-time world champion Hnilička.

But judge Tomas Lehovec said: "The voting for his candidacy was contrary to the electoral regulations."

The election was initially due to take place in 2020 but was delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two further postponements were forced by Šťovíček, Ertl and Miroslav Jansta, chairman of Czech Union of Sport, in court after they claimed to have been unfairly removed from the list of candidates for the COC elections.

Jiří Kejval retained his place as COC President following the court ruling ©Getty Images
Jiří Kejval retained his place as COC President following the court ruling ©Getty Images

Following the latest court ruling, Šťovíček told insidethegames that he expected the COC to appeal the decision but claimed the election mistakes were "really obvious."

"Before the judgement of the court was pronounced, I proposed to finish all the disputes by an out-of-court settlement, that would allow me participate as a guest, with no voting rights and only with the right to express my opinion, the COC Executive Board meetings," said Šťovíček.

"If allowed this, I would withdraw all my court claims and make peace with COC.

"Unfortunately, COC refused any settlement, which shows worries of having somebody present to their decision-making and complete lack of transparency.

"Consequently they lost their case.

"COC will probably appeal that decision, but my legal position is quite solid, as the mistakes in election process were really obvious, and I do not expect any modification of current court decision."

The COC told insidethegames that the court ruling had "no impact" on the running of the organisation and was confident of a successful appeal.

"The Municipal Court in Prague, as a court of first instance, considered in joint proceedings the petition of the Association of Sports Unions of the Czech Republic seeking the invalidity of the resolution of the election Plenum of the Czech Olympic Committee of June 29, 2021, and the petition of the Autoklub and J. Šťovíček seeking the invalidity of the election of vice-presidents of the Czech Olympic Committee," a statement from the COC read.

"The court rejected the claim of the Association of Sports Unions of the Czech Republic in its entirety, and in the second case it granted the petition in part. However, this decision is not yet legally effective, we will file an appeal against it. 

"It has no impact on the operation of the Czech Olympic Committee. 

"The court accepted all the arguments of our defence. 

"We believe that we will be successful on appeal - as we have been with all the other unjustified lawsuits we have recently faced."