The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned a life ban imposed by football's world governing body Fifa against Qatar's Mohamed Bin Hammam, citing "insufficient evidence" to impose the penalty.
"The CAS has upheld Mr Bin Hammam's appeal, annulled the decision rendered by the Fifa Appeal Committee and lifted the life ban imposed on Mr Bin Hammam," the Court said in a statement on Thursday.
It said, however, that the ruling did not amount to an "affirmative finding of innocence" for Bin Hammam, noting that Fifa's investigation had not been thorough enough.
"The CAS has upheld Bin Hammam's appeal, annulled the decision rendered by the Fifa Appeal Committee and Lifted the life ban imposed on Mr Bin Hammam," the CAS statement read.
Fifa said it noted Cas' decision "with concern", and added that Bin Hammam would remain suspended until a separate disciplinary investigation by the Asian Football Confederation was completed.
CAS said the three-man panel voted 2-1 in Bin Hammam's favour but added that his behaviour was "not of the highest
Bin Hammam, a former member of Fifa's executive committee, had challenged Sepp Blatter for the presidency of soccer's world ruling body last year.
He withdrew his candidacy and was then provisionally suspended, days before the June election over allegations that he had tried to buy the votes of Caribbean officials by handing them $40,000 each in brown envelopes.
Blatter was subsequently re-elected unopposed for a fourth term as Fifa president, while Bin Hammam was found guilty of breaking seven articles of Fifa's ethics code, including one on bribery.
Bin Hammam, 62, along with former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner were suspended after a leaked report revealed four Caribbean Football Union (CFU) associations were either offered money, or saw the incident occur, during a meeting last May.
He was banned for life and subsequently lost an appeal at Fifa.
Proceedings against former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, also present, were dropped after he resigned his post.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the CAS was founded in 1984 to resolve any and all disputes in the sporting realm. The court was the brainchild of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former president of the International Olympic Committee.