The forthcoming election of a new President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) has taken a bizarre and alarming twist with one of the candidates claiming to have received allegations of a death threat from an "untraceable email account".
Word of the alleged threat against ISSF vice-president Luciano Rossi emerged in an email sent from the address of the President’s office of the Italian Skeet Shooting Federation (FITAV).
This read as follows:
"We would like to bring at [sic] your kind attention that on November 14, Mr Luciano Rossi and his family have received personal threats, related to his candidacy as ISSF President, and that on November 15 he filed charge at the Italian Police.
"This is the note sent on November 16, that has been sent to the ISSF and in copy to the [International Olympic Committee (IOC)]:
"Dear Mr. Schreiber [the ISSF secretary general],
"I hereby report that last Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 4.02 PM, I received from an untraceable e-mail account a threatening e-mail alleging that ISSF Officials are plotting to kill me and/or to kidnap my youngest daughter Fiammetta, should I not withdraw from the ISSF election.
"Yesterday I promptly filed charges at the Italian Police…
"The threats are considered credible by the Police, and they have been sent through sophisticated informatics systems.
"Today, Friday, Nov. 16, at 02.08 AM, my youngest daughter Fiammetta received the same threatening mail.
"The seriousness of the threat is of such unprecedented gravity that no words are needed but an immediate reaction is demanded.
"I expect that ISSF will immediately report the fact to the German Police, and that You will put in place all the necessary security measures to ensure that the General Assembly will be a safe place for me, my family and every person that will be present in Munich for the General Assembly Meeting.
"I will be at the disposal of the German Police and of any other competent Authority when I arrive in Munich."
The Bavarian city is due to host the General Assembly at the Hilton Munich Park Hotel at which Mexican Olegario Vázquez Raña’s 38-year term at the helm of the ISSF will come to an end on November 30.
Rossi is one of three candidates, along with Russia’s Vladimir Lisin, who has been endorsed by Vázquez Raña as his preferred successor, and Boutros Jalkh of Lebanon.
Vázquez Raña and Schreiber have now informed all members of the ISSF Executive Committee of the alleged threat in a separate email, saying:
"We have to report a very serious and unbelievable matter.
"Vice-President Luciano Rossi informed us yesterday afternoon that he received “from an untraceable e-mail account a threatening e-mail alleging that ISSF Officials are plotting to kill him and/or kidnap his youngest daughter, should he not withdraw from the ISSF election”.
"Further, he asked that this must be reported immediately to the German Police to ensure the General Assembly will be a safe place for him…
"Today in the morning, I went to the German Police Station to report this matter and they filed a report.
"Also in the morning, I asked Mr. Rossi by email to send us the emails he received to forward them to the German Police and sent recently a reminder.
"Until now we did not get any respond [sic] but hope to get them as soon as possible.
"President Vazquez and I wanted to inform you immediately about this unbelievable matter which we of course severely condemn."
A turbulent finale to the campaign to replace one of the longest-serving leaders in world sport had appeared likely, after the 65-year-old Italian had been, in effect, cleared to take part in the race by an appeal ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
This cut a suspension imposed on Rossi by the ISSF’s Ethics Committee from three years to 20 weeks.
The verdict from the CAS said personal and political motivation of ISSF Executive Committee members was a factor in the decision to ban Rossi for three years.
It also confirmed Rossi had committed "serious violations" of the governing body's Ethics Code as he had failed to disclose his ownership and indirect ownership of companies which manufacture clay targets used in double trap shooting - axed from the Tokyo 2020 programme by the ISSF.
Rossi,who has been an ISSF vice-president since 1998, has since accused Vázquez Raña and Lisin of "trying everything they could" to stop him standing.
Lisin appears to have responded to disclosure of the alleged threats by circulating his own statement speculating that "somebody" could be aiming to disrupt the election.
The statement says:
"During the recent days we received several pieces of information which was very hard for any sane person to believe.
"However the goals and the objectives why this information has been circulated to us are clearly evident.
"Somebody is interested to find a reason for disrupting the ISSF General Assembly and the ensuing elections.
"To defame one or all of us.
"I do not have any doubt that in reality these allegations have no connection with anybody’s safety.
"I hope that the respective bodies will find out who is the real perpetrator and who consequently is organizing the dirty games.
"I am sure this will not be the last provocation and we must therefore be ready to deal with any attempts to disunite us, to create an atmosphere of nervousness and hysteria.
"We are sensible people and understand everything correctly.
"It is impossible to disunite us - WE ARE ONE FAMILY!"