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  • AIBA Dropped from Tokyo Olympics


    05/22/19

    (ATR) The International Boxing Federation says it is studying the findings of an IOC report banning AIBA from involvement in the boxing tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    In an unprecedented move, the IOC suspended AIBA following a report from an ad hoc group that examined the operations of the federation over the past few months. The report was presented Wednesday in Lausanne to a meeting of the IOC Executive Board led by President Thomas Bach.

    The 30-page report depicts the international federation as fractured across multiple fault lines involving ethics, finance, governance and refereeing at the Olympic Games.

    “Continuous disregard of basic governance standards, in breach of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics” is the broad conclusion of the report released Wednesday.

    The federation's response was muted.

    “The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has taken note of the announcement made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). AIBA is currently reviewing the report from the IOC and will not make any comments until further clarification is made, however AIBA does look forward to working with the IOC in the future,” says the brief statement from AIBA.

    AIBA's problems have existed for years under a series of presidents. They have become acute in the last three years following a disastrous Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where 36 referees and judges were dismissed in a dispute over how they were selected.

    In 2017, the federation went into a leadership tailspin with the revelation that it was facing insolvency with more than $20 million obligated to investors. C.K. Wu, an IOC member who was a reform candidate when elected in 2006 as AIBA president, resigned under pressure from the federation board. The IOC put AIBA under watch in late 2017, suspending payments and contact with the federation.

    The coup de grace for the IOC came in January 2018 when AIBA vice president Gafur Rakhimov was designated as interim president. Well-known in Asian boxing, Rakhimov was also known to law enforcement worldwide. His supposed links to organized crime led Australia to refuse a visa for him to attend the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. For six years he’s been on a US Treasury Department list, banned from financial transactions and travel to the U.S.

    Despite warnings from the IOC president, the AIBA
    The IOC EB in Lausanne. (IOC)
    Congress in Moscow last November gave him an overwhelming victory to serve a full four-year term as fed president.

    Rakhimov stepped down from office four months later in a move to quell IOC queasiness. His successor is Dr. Mohamed Moustahsane of Morocco, now the fourth person to hold the AIBA presidency in two years. Moustahsane is linked to the fiasco in Rio as chair of the federation committee overseeing referees and judges.

    Talk in the past few weeks about a $16 million rescue package from the president of the Russian Boxing Federation have not helped AIBA’s cause. The IOC report takes note of the supposed offer, questioning the source of the money and whether it even exists.

    The IOC inquiry commission was headed by IOC Executive Board member and United World Wrestling federation president Nenad Lalovic. Other members
    included Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico and Emma Terho from Finland. Carrion is a banker while Terho is a member of the IOC Athletes Commission.

    Bach says an IOC-appointed working group will take over management of the Tokyo boxing tournament, from qualification of the competitors to the administration of the bouts next year.

    IOC member Morinari Watanabe, who is also president of the International Gymnastics Federation, has been drafted to lead the working group.

    The IOC inquiry notes progress in some areas but concludes much remains undone as the final stretch of preparations begins for Tokyo 2020.

    “Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” says the report.

    An official with Panam Sports, which organizes the Pan American Games, says the IOC report and status of AIBA will not affect the boxing tournament at the Pan Am Games in Lima this July. The event is handled by the confederation representing boxing in the Americas.

    Certainly at peril is the AIBA Boxing World Championships scheduled in Russia in September. With the federation suspended from its normal relationship with the IOC, results of the championship likely would not be recognized for qualification to the Tokyo Olympics. The same issue exists for the women's world championship in November, also to be held in Russia. 

    It’s one of many complications from this first-of-its-kind crisis for an Olympic sport federation.

    Acknowledging that the IOC has never had to deal with such a controversy before, Bach says he hopes it is the last time.

    Reported by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.

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