The international chess world has been rocked by a bribery scandal featuring Turkey at the center, with allegations and refutations advancing and retreating across the board.

The New York Times on Wednesday published a story reporting findings that the Turkish Chess Federation paid voters to help win their bid to host the 2012 Chess Olympiad.

“A recent audit of the Turkish Chess Federation reported that the federation paid voters to help win an election for the right to host the Chess Olympiad in 2012,” Dylan Loeb McCain wrote on Gambit, the New York Times’ chess blog.

Turkey won the bid to host one of the world’s most important chess events in Istanbul in 2012 after a vote among delegates of the World Chess Federation at the Olympiad in Dresden, Germany two years ago, McCain noted. Turkey beat out Montenegro, the other finalist, by a vote of 95 to 40 to win the bid to host the Olympiad, “a national team competition held every two years.”

The New York Times reported that the success of the Turkish bid appeared to have been ensured by paying delegates the sum of 178,000 Turkish Liras to vote in favor it.

The claims surfaced after the Turkish Chess Federation published a financial audit on its website.

“It was detected in official documents, records and listings that in order to host the 2012 World Chess Olympics in Istanbul, 177,724.32 liras were allocated for the rent of the stand, souvenirs, lobbying activities as well as accommodation, transportation and food expenses of some FIDE [World Chess Federation] delegates to vote for our country at the FIDE general council meeting held in Dresden, Germany, in 2008, as approved at the board meeting, and as adequate additional funds were transferred into the federation’s budget by the Turkish Republic prime minister’s Office of Youth and Sports general directorate in 2008, which were spent in accordance with the status of the federation and other general regulations,” a footnote to the audit read.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the FIDE president, wrote in an e-mail, “Paying for votes is not allowed by FIDE and by its members.” He said FIDE would look into the allegations.

Turkish Chess Federation Chairman Ali Nihat Yazc rigorously denied the claims, saying: “This claim is factually untrue. The Turkish Chess Federation spent around 178,000 liras for the 2012 Olympiad Campaign in 2008 – which is not a very large sum when you are bidding for an Olympiad. The money was spent mainly on our delegation’s travel and stay in Dresden, setting up and maintaining a stand in Dresden, the ‘Turkish Night’ party, as well as gifts and souvenirs promoting the city of Istanbul.” 

Yazc also claimed that the allegations were part of a plan trying to remove him from his national chairman spot.