IOC asked to probe court interference in Brazil
The ousted presidents of two Brazilian sports federations have filed complaints with the IOC claiming they were removed from their posts after illegal interference from local courts.
The Brazilian ice sports federation and the badminton federation claim the court rulings are a clear violation of the Olympic Charter and say it could eventually lead to a suspension of the Brazilian Olympic Committee ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Brazilian committee has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed any threat of suspension, saying the presidents were axed because of third-party lawsuits related to alleged irregularities in their administration. It vehemently said there hasn't been government interference.
The International Olympic Committee confirmed it received the complaints but said the federations first must try to address them with the Brazilian committee and their international federations.
The local federations told The Associated Press this week that they are seeking "relief" from the IOC because they are not being helped by the Brazilian Olympic Committee. They accuse the national body of not doing enough to preserve the federations' autonomy as demanded by the Olympic Charter. They allege the committee has been working against the local federations and even took part in a lawsuit against one of them.
"This is a simple case of impermissible government interference in Olympic affairs," said Eric Maleson, the removed president of the ice sports federation. "The court action in Brazil should greatly alarm and distress the IOC and members of the Olympic movement everywhere."
The Brazilian ice sports federation was the only federation voting against the re-election of Carlos Nuzman as president of the Brazilian committee last year. Nuzman is also the president of the 2016 Rio organizing committee.
The suspension of a national committee is usually a last-resort action by the IOC, which tries to make sure the alleged irregularities are resolved before it has to get involved.
But the Brazilian federations said it's already time for the IOC to take action, citing the suspension in December of India's Olympic committee for government interference in its election process.
"With the IOC's recent suspension of the Indian Olympic Association, there can be little doubt that the IOC takes government interference and violations of the Olympic Charter very seriously," Maleson's complaint to the IOC said. "The court action in Brazil is government interference akin to India and a clear violation of the Olympic Charter."
Maleson was removed from his post last year after a Rio de Janeiro court named an interim president to take over the federation. The ruling came after a former athlete sued the ice sports federation and accused Maleson of financial irregularities. Maleson said he has the evidence to prove that the federation has always been in good standing financially, and argues that since the case is ongoing, he shouldn't have been removed until a final ruling is made.
The former president of the badminton federation, Celso Wolf, was removed following a lawsuit by a former coach alleging irregularities with the entity's finances. The case is also ongoing, but the judge ordered new elections and another president was elected.
IOC regulations state that the national Olympic committees "must preserve their autonomy and resist all pressures of any kind, including but not limited to political, legal, religious or economic pressures which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic Charter."
The charter also says that "Governments or other public authorities shall not designate any members of an NOC. However, an NOC may decide, at its discretion, to elect as members representatives of such authorities."
The local sports federations are considered members of the National Olympic Committee.
The IOC said it will not get directly involved with the complaints, calling them an "internal issue" at the moment.
"The Olympic Charter is meant to provide guidance to stakeholders of the Olympic Movement," the IOC said in a statement sent to the AP. "However, any specific issue concerning a national federation shall be dealt with at the appropriate level — the directly competent sports organizations to which it is affiliated, that is the National Olympic Committee and the International Federation concerned."
The international federations contacted by the AP said they are aware of the ongoing situation but are waiting for Brazil's legal system to rule on the cases.
Maleson sent another letter to the IOC this week saying the federation has not received any support from the Brazilian committee.
"Both the government and public authorities of Brazil and Brazil's own NOC have violated our rights under the Olympic Charter," said the complaint obtained by the AP. "We requested the assistance of the (Brazilian Olympic Committee) to no avail. As a result, we now request your urgent and immediate intervention and action."
The Brazilian committee said "there has never been any intervention by the Brazilian government or by the Brazilian Olympic Committee."
"After an investigation at the (ice sports) federation, a judge ruled that there were a series of irregularities in the entity's administration, including of money evasion," the committee said. "For that reason, the judge named a new president for six months until the situation is back to normal and new elections can take place."
The committee said the changes in the badminton federation also were the result of a court ruling not involving the committee.
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