Feds detain ex Russian Olympic official in South Florida

Adriana Gomez Licon
Associated Press

Miami – A former Russian Olympic Committee official who fled his country and claimed to have been poisoned after being criticized by Russian President Vladimir Putin has been arrested in Florida for an alleged immigration violation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Tammy Spicer announced Wednesday that 48-year-old Akhmed Bilalov was arrested at his condo in Sunny Isles Beach on Tuesday. He was taken to the Krome detention facility in Miami to face deportation and remained in custody Wednesday.

In this Jan. 26, 2011 file photo Akhmed Bilalov speaks with the press in Davos, Switzerland. Bilalov, a former Russian Olympic Committee official, who fled the country following accusations by Vladimir Putin was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at his home in Sunny Isles, Fla., on an alleged immigration violation.

The agency’s statement says Bilalov entered the United States for a temporary stay on May 2, 2016, but “failed to depart in accordance with the terms of his admission.”

The Miami Herald first reported the story and said Bilalov had been living in Florida with his wife and newborn in an upscale suburb of Miami Beach, nicknamed “Little Moscow” for its number of Russian emigres. ICE’s records don’t list defense attorneys, and it wasn’t immediately clear who may be representing him.

Bilalov was a rising star in Russian business and sports circles until his sudden downfall in February 2013, when Putin sharply criticized cost overruns and delays during Bilalov’s tenure overseeing a ski jump complex being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Soon after, Bilalov resigned as a vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee. Two months later, Russian prosecutors opened a criminal case against him in connection with alleged misuse of funds intended for developing tourism resorts and overclaiming expenses for a visit to the 2012 Olympics in London.

Russian state news agencies reported Wednesday that the case against Bilalov remained open and that he was on a wanted list.

Facing up to four years in prison if convicted, Bilalov left Russia for Germany, where he alleged that doctors found elevated levels of mercury in his blood. In comments to the Russian news agency Interfax, Bilalov claimed his Moscow office had been contaminated.

Before his downfall, Bilalov also led the Russian Golf Federation and had a seat on the International Olympic Committee’s marketing commission in 2011 and 2012.


Associated Press sports writer James Ellingworth contributed to this story from Duesseldorf, Germany.