President of German Olympic confederation bows to pressure

MUNICH (AP) — The president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation is not standing for re-election in December after bowing to internal and external pressure over its leadership crisis.

The confederation, which is known as the DOSB, said Wednesday that Alfons Hörmann had decided to step down after eight years in charge, rather than await the results of a vote of confidence due to be held at an extraordinary general meeting in September.

The DOSB is now foregoing the vote of confidence.

One of the DOSB’s five vice-presidents, Kaweh Niroomand, is also stepping down. The confederation said it was not yet decided if the other four will stand for re-election.

“The DOSB and the entire sport need strength and unity to continue to operate successfully and represent the interests of its member organizations. The well-being of German sport must always take precedence over the ambitions and goals of the people involved,” Hörmann said in a DOSB statement.

The leadership crisis was triggered in May by an anonymous letter from a group of DOSB employees that accused Hörmann and top management officials of creating a “climate of fear” at the headquarters in Frankfurt.

The 60-year-old Hörmann was accused in the letter of putting psychological pressure on employees and taking a lax attitude to coronavirus regulations.

IOC president Thomas Bach, Hörmann’s predecessor at the DOSB, responded to the allegations with a letter to the organization in which he wrote: “I am very concerned about its credibility and thus its functionality.”

The confederation said Wednesday that its presidium will prepare an “orderly transition” in the coming months and “do everything possible to best support the (German) athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and to get preparations for the Winter Games in Beijing under way.”

The DOSB’s presidium and supervisory board had asked its ethics committee to look into the employees’ accusations. The committee, chaired by former interior minister Thomas de Maizière, recommended in its report on June 7 that new elections should be convened a year early at its AGM in December.

But the DOSB’s leadership did not initially follow the recommendations and opted instead for the vote of confidence in September, causing yet more resentment among its member associations. The individual state sport federations insisted on following the ethics committee’s recommendations.

Hörmann said the ethics committee’s investigation “rebuffed some of the allegations made, but at the same time expressed a significantly different perception of the leadership situation.”

De Maizière’s committee had found a lack of trust and confidence among DOSB employees. “Too much self-reflection, demotivation and rumors, dissatisfaction and a lack of clarity,” the committee’s report said.

De Maizière reiterated his findings in an interview with public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.

“This whole atmosphere has to end,” De Maizière said. “For that you need a process, and the process is called building trust.”

The DOSB belatedly agreed on Wednesday.

“A fundamental new beginning should be possible with the new elections that have now been brought forward,” the organization said.


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