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President of National Olympic Committees association leaves FIFA post amid bribery claims

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait is resigning from his soccer roles under pressure from allegations in an American federal court that he bribed Asian officials.

Sheikh Ahmad said Sunday in a statement he will withdraw from a May 8 election in Bahrain for the FIFA seat representing Asia, which he currently holds.

“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA Congresses,” said the Kuwaiti royal, who denies any wrongdoing.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions,” he said.

The long-time Olympic Council of Asia president contacted the ethics panels of FIFA and the IOC after the allegations were made in Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday.

FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking around $1 million in bribes, including from Kuwaiti officials. The cash was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes, Lai said in court.

Sheikh Ahmad resigned his candidacy ahead of a FIFA panel deciding whether to remove him on ethical grounds.

The FIFA Review Committee, which rules on the integrity of people seeking senior FIFA positions, has been studying the sheikh’s candidacy since the allegations emerged, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The FIFA ethics committee is making a separate assessment of whether to provisionally suspend the sheikh, a long-time leader of Kuwait’s soccer federation who was elected to FIFA’s ruling committee in 2015.

Resigning from his soccer positions does not necessarily put Sheikh Ahmad out of reach of FIFA ethics prosecutors and judges if any action was taken.

In 2012, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the ethics committee days after he resigned.

Bin Hammam was also clearly identified in Lai’s court hearing for having paid Lai a total of $100,000 in bribes to support the Qatari’s failed challenge to FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Bin Hammam was removed from that election contest in a Caribbean bribery case.

Sheikh Ahmad has also contacted the IOC’s ethics commission about the allegations against him, the IOC said on Saturday.

As president since 2012 of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC, Sheikh Ahmad’s support has often been cited as key to winning Olympic election and hosting awards. The sheikh was widely credited for helping Thomas Bach win the IOC presidency in 2013.

Although Sheikh Ahmad was not named in Department of Justice and court documents last week, he has become one of the most significant casualties of the sprawling U.S. federal investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer revealed two years ago.

The sheikh could be identified in a transcript of Lai’s court hearing which said “co-conspirator #2 was also the president of Olympic Council of Asia.” Sheikh Ahmad has been OCA president since 1991.

Co-conspirator #3 was described as having a “high-ranking” role at OCA, and also linked to the Kuwait soccer federation.

According to the published transcript, Lai claimed he “received at least $770,000 in wire transfers from accounts associated with Co-Conspirator #3 and the OCA between November of 2009 and about the fall of 2014.”

“I understood that the source of this money was ultimately Co-Conspirator #2 and on some occasion Co-Conspirator #3 told me to send him an email saying that I need funds so he could show the email to Co-Conspirator #2,” Lai said in court.

Lai admitted that he agreed to help recruit other Asian officials that voted in FIFA elections who would help Kuwait’s interests.

The Guam soccer federation leader since 2001, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The American federal investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.

Lai’s case marked the first major step into Asia, and suggests other soccer officials potentially recruited by the Kuwait faction could be targeted.

The Asian election for FIFA seats on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain, is the same day as a FIFA Council meeting which the sheik will not attend. The FIFA congress is held in the city three days later.

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Olympic Channel Broadcast Schedule: July 24 – 30

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The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA brings you access to your favorite Olympic sports and athletes year-round, 24/7.

Check the Channel Finder to see how you can watch the Olympic Channel in your area.

It is also available to stream live on OlympicChannel.com, the Olympic Channel app, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Select replays and highlights will be available on those platforms and TeamUSA.org.

See below for the latest Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA broadcast schedule, from July 24-30:

Day Program Time (ET)
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 1 – Semifinals & Finals 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Crossover Match #1 02:00 AM
Monday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Fabian Gomez, Mohamed Lahna and Alex & Maia Shibutani 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 03:30 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 06:00 AM
Monday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Lithuania (preliminary round) 06:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Monday World Games Day 3 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 3 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Monday World Para Track & Field Championships Day 10 from London, England 01:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: London 2012 05:30 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 06:00 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 09:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 10:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 01:30 AM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 03:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 06:00 AM
Tuesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Australia (quarterfinal) 06:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Tuesday World Games Day 4 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Tuesday Return to Rio Women’s Water Polo: USA vs. Italy (final) 01:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 05:30 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 01:00 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 02:30 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 03:00 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 03:30 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 06:00 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Argentina (semifinal) 06:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Wednesday World Games Day 5 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Wednesday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 01:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 05:30 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 06:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 01:00 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 02:30 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 03:00 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 03:30 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 06:00 AM
Thursday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Spain (final) 06:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Thursday World Games Day 6 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Thursday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Jaime Espinal, Miles Chamley-Watson and Devin Logan 01:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Kayla Harrison, Marti Malloy, Toni-Ann Williams and Mark McMorris 02:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 05:30 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 06:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Thursday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 01:00 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:30 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 03:00 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 03:30 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 06:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:30 AM
Friday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 07:00 AM
Friday World Games Day 7 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 10:30 AM
Friday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 04:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Decathlon, Heptathlon, Field Events 05:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 01:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:30 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 03:30 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 06:00 AM
Saturday Return to London: Women’s Beach Volleyball – USA vs. USA (final) 06:30 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 07:30 AM
Saturday World Games Day 8 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 10:30 AM
Saturday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships – Pool Play 11:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 04:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 05:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 08:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 10:00 PM
Saturday UCI BMX World Championships From Rock Hill, South Carolina 11:00 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 12:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 02:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Heats 03:30 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Fiji’s Gold Medalist Jerry Tuwai 06:00 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Petra Majdic and the Miracle of Vancouver 06:30 AM
Sunday Return to Rio: Track Cycling & BMX 07:00 AM
Sunday World Games Day 9 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Sunday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 09:00 AM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 09:30 AM
Sunday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Sunday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 02:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Women’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 04:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Men’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 05:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 06:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 08:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 09:30 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 11:30 PM

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Michael Phelps loses Shark Week ‘race’ to great white (video)

Michael Phelps, Shark
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Michael Phelps was beaten by a great white shark in a Shark Week “race.”

Great White: 36.1 seconds
Michael Phelps: 38.13 seconds

Full video is here.

“I don’t like taking silver medals, but I’ll take one to a great white,” said Phelps, who complained about swimming in 50-degree water in a thin wetsuit but still called it “a dream come true.” “We don’t swim in this, so it basically just shocks our entire body. It’s almost like [the shark is] a bullet.”

The 23-time Olympic champion was not in the race water at the same time as a shark on “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” which aired on Discovery Channel on Sunday night.

Instead, experts determined the speeds and movements of sharks for hypothetical races. Then, Phelps dove into open water off South Africa alone with a monofin and swam to a buoy earlier this year.

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Experts determined a great white could cover 100 meters in 36.1 seconds, which is much faster than Brazilian Cesar Cielo‘s 100m freestyle world record of 46.91.

They said a great white could reach up to 26 miles per hour at its fastest, meaning it could close the final 10 meters of a race in one second.

Early in the show in the Bahamas, Phelps outswam a hypothetical reef shark but was beaten by a hammerhead’s late surge in a 50-meter race.

Michael Phelps, Shark

The show used Phelps’ world record 100m butterfly swim from the 2009 World Championships for reference, saying he reached about 5.5 miles per hour at the end of the race.

A shark was super-imposed into a lane in that worlds race and easily outdistanced Phelps in the last 25 meters.

Phelps will star on the final night of Shark Week in “Shark School with Michael Phelps” next Sunday at 8 ET.

“Michael Phelps joins Doc Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab to get a crash course on everything ‘shark,'” according to Discovery Channel. “They’ll dispel the myths and common misconceptions, teach him how to safely dive with sharks – including how to stay calm when a hammerhead swims two feet above his face – and will get Michael Phelps up close and personal with the incredible power of a great white.”

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Michael Phelps, Shark
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