— Published 2 March 2022

Usmanov takes a step backwards

Inevitable. Alisher Usmanov, the wealthy Russian president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE), has announced his decision to step down from the body. He explained this in a brief statement published on Tuesday 1 March on the FIE website. The Russian leader of Uzbek origin, who was sanctioned on Monday 28 February by the European Union (his assets are frozen and he is no longer authorised to travel to an EU country), said he was “suspending his functions as president, with immediate effect, until justice is restored“. But he condemned the EU’s decision, saying it was based on “false and defamatory allegations”. Alisher Usmanov continued: “I will use all legal means to protect my honour and reputation“. The Russian leader was first elected to the presidency of the FIE in 2008, in an election in which he beat the incumbent, Frenchman René Roch. Since then, he has been re-elected three times without opposition. At the end of 2019, he acquired the original manuscript of Pierre de Coubertin’s founding speech at auction for the record sum of $8.8 million. He then donated it to the IOC for display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. With the temporary withdrawal of Alisher Usmanov, Russia now has only two presidents of an international federation in an Olympic sport: Umar Kremlev in boxing (IBA), and Vladimir Lisin in shooting (ISSF).