Joint Press Release: AIBA Governance Issues
On 21 October 2020, Inside the Games published an article alleging a AIBA rule breach involving a payment of US$4,800 being made to the Americas Boxing Confederation on behalf of nine National Federations.
The alleged rule breach was recounted by AMBC President Osvaldo Bisbal who claimed a breach of the AIBA election rules and a cover-up to disguise the source of the funds as being a conspiracy between the Dominican Republic Boxing Federation and the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Anguilla, Bermuda, Haiti and Suriname. The Caribbean nations in question did not issue a press release at that time because they were trying to work with Interim President Moustahsane to resolve any misunderstanding. To that end a formal representation was made and a full impartial hearing to determine the issue requested. However, despite these representations with respect to due process being made to AIBA by a neutral country, on 4 November 2020, AIBA and AMBC circulated the final list of National Federations eligible to vote. That list excluded all of the aforementioned countries. When questioned by the neutral country as to why the countries had been excluded despite any due process, the AIBA Election Committee noted that:
“Based on the fact that each member federation has to pay the membership fee directly to AIBA – and as an exception for the Covid-19 pandemic this year to the continental federation – and in view of the information received that Dominican Boxing Federation paid the membership fee for 8 federations (Bermuda, Haiti, St. Maarten, Suriname, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda and Anguilla) and such membership fee is USD 250/year, AIBA Election Committee was of the opinion that the 8 members mentioned before shall not be allowed to vote.”
There are a number of serious issues with the foregoing rationale from a governance perspective. Most troublingly, the involved countries were not asked to provide any written representations as to what had transpired, have not had sight of the actual complaint letter made against them (and have obtained their information from the media), there has been no disciplinary due process followed by a properly constituted body and they have not been provided directly with any coherent rationale for the decision. This blatant lack of due process is an exact repetition of the behavior which has previously brought AIBA to the IOC’s close attention.
To make matters worse, on 16 November 2020, the impacted federations finally received a formal notice of sanction from the AIBA Disciplinary Committee, providing them just four days to provide written representations defending their position.
At this point we must conclude that we have been tried and punished for an act which we have only been formally accused of on 16th November. We have been provided with little to no opportunity to address the allegation unless the Disciplinary Committee extends the deadline, as we have requested. Therefore, we would like to set the record straight. The bulk payment which transpired was actually as a result of AIBA and AMBC poor governance, poor communication and general mismanagement and confusion over the payment of the 2020 dues during a worldwide global pandemic. AIBA’s reputable Swiss bank accounts were closed due to their leadership and governance issues and therefore National Federations were directed to pay dues to AIBA’s Serbian bank account or, as an alternative, to the AMBC Treasurer’s personal bank account. Contrary deadlines were provided for payment and the deadline fell on a US national holiday when banks in many of the National Federation countries, were closed. The Caribbean Region had repeatedly raised significant concerns with making payments to either of these accounts given that good governance and audit does not permit sending of funds to a personal bank account and there are significant issues involved with banks, especially in offshore Caribbean jurisdictions, allowing funds to be wired to Serbia. We have received reports from many of our colleagues who tried to remit funds, which they could not send for the aforementioned reasons. Many of our Caribbean federations are staffed by volunteers, without administrative officers. Often our national Olympic Committees have to pay dues on our behalf as a national federation may not even have its own bank account and wire transfers cost money that is not readily available. AIBA is fully aware of these issues and has previously permitted payment in bulk on behalf of a group of National Federations. The intent behind making the payment in bulk was to address all of the foregoing difficulties. The bulk transfer was made by the Dominican Republic Federation because this one was one of the only countries where banks were open on the day in question.
This blatant disregard of governance, due process and basic principles of fairness is the reason that AIBA were suspended by the IOC. For the Disciplinary Committee to attempt to provide a fair hearing at this point, after we have already been stripped of our voting right, smells a lot like trying to add legitimacy to a decision after the fact. We will not allow an unlawful election to proceed along the same tenet of governance which has mired the sport that many of us have dedicated our whole lives to, into continuing disrepute.
We understand that the issues which the Caribbean are experiencing are not isolated to this region and that other global Member Federations have been similarly stripped of their voting rights. We urge any such impacted federation to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we intend to file a joint legal action to challenge this continuing behavior and prevent this unlawful election.
Yours in Sport,
Jose Rosario on behalf of the impacted federations.
US Virgin Islands Boxing
PO Box 10911
St. Thomas, VI 00801
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