(Reuters) - The Association of Summer Olympic Federations (ASOIF) on Friday told the president of SportAccord he could no longer represent them following his attack on the International Olympic Committee as more federations withdrew from the umbrella organization.
In a sharply-worded letter, seen by Reuters, ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti informed SportAccord chief Marius Vizer, who heads the umbrella organization that represents some 100 Olympic and non-Olympic federations, his attack on the IOC last month was incompatible with his position.
Since Vizer’s speech in Sochi in April more than a dozen international federations have suspended their membership in protest at his criticism of the IOC, which he accused of resisting change, lacking transparency and being dated.
The International Fencing Federation (FIE) became the latest to withdraw its membership on Friday accusing Vizer of dividing the sports community with his comments, bringing the total number to at least 18 federations.
ASOIF’s Ricci Bitti also accused Vizer of “a lack of understanding of the governance and functioning of the Olympic movement”.
The Italian, who is an IOC member and the head of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), said Vizer, who had proposed a 20-point plan for a meeting with ASOIF and the IOC to clear the air, had the chance to raise these points during the recent IOC reforms and the body’s session in December.
“It seems from subsequent remarks and correspondence that apparently you failed to represent your views on those occasions,” Ricci Bitti said.
“In conclusion let me remind you that ASOIF and the Summer Olympic International Federations consider the position you took in Sochi incompatible with their role as major stakeholders in the Olympic movement.
“I urge you to politely refrain from speaking publicly on behalf of the international federations as they do not feel represented by SportAccord and more importantly do not agree with your views or the position you have taken.”
Vizer, in his 20-point plan, said he wanted to discuss prize money for Olympians, increased revenues from the Games for international federations, co-ownership of the newly-established Olympic channel and other issues, which would see the IOC relinquish some control over its own product, the Olympics.
The FIE suspended its own membership in SportAccord and demanded an apology to the IOC from Vizer.
FIE president Alisher Usmanov in a letter to Vizer said the suspension would remain in place “pending the resolution of your conflict with the IOC, an official apology to the President of the IOC and a review of the cooperation with the members of SportAccord.”
“Your personal contentious statements divide the international sport community and damage international federations,” Usmanov wrote.
The IOC has said it would first discuss the matter within the Executive Board next month before agreeing to meet with Vizer.
(This story corrects the abbreviation of the fencing federation to FIE)
editing by Justin Palmer