AIBA Responds - Boxing Threatened With Olympic Expulsion

(ATR) Threatened with Olympic extinction, boxing pledges reform to IOC. On the scene ... 

(ATR) The IOC delivers a stinging rebuke to changes put in place last week by the International Boxing Association, threatening to expel the sport from the Tokyo Olympics.

IOC president Thomas Bach conveyed his concern for the management of the Federation which has been roiled by controversy in the past eight months.

The IOC president spoke at a press conference at the conclusion of two days of meetings of the ruling executive board in PyeongChang, South Korea.

"We are extremely worried about the governance in AIBA. We received a report from the IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and from the IOC Sports Director which followed the decision that we already took last December to withhold any future financial contributions to AIBA and required some reports about their actions," Bach said.

"This decision is extremely disappointing for AIBA as it hoped the IOC Executive Board would

have understood that the processes necessary to implement even more measures require

more time and that the positive steps already taken in recent times are evidence of AIBA’s

strong efforts and willingness to reform," says a statement from AIBA.

Bach essentially rejected the steps taken at the extraordinary AIBA congress held in Dubai last weekend. The selection of a new interim president, Gafur Rakhimov, the most senior of the Federation vice presidents, may be the most difficult of the changes for the IOC to accept. The Russian businessman with a reputation among law enforcement for connections to organized crime, was not mentioned by name by the IOC president who referred to "the issues surrounding, to say it diplomatically, the new interim president of AIBA".

Bach added further criticism about the process that selected Rakhimov "and the way their new leadership was, I cannot say … elected, promoted, or installed," Bach said. Rakhimov was selected following the statutes of the federation.

The statement from AIBA does not address the controversy of who is ABA interim president, but coolly responds to the IOC complaint.

"Over the next six months AIBA will be in the process of a complete organisational review,which will lead to the ‘New Foundation Plan’ for AIBA. This plan and the recommendationsproduced will be discussed during the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in July and anupdate will be provided to the IOC in the requested April 30th report," says AIBA.

In rejecting the report submitted by AIBA last week, Bach says the IOC is punching back with more demands.

He says the IOC is requesting an investigation be opened into the governance of AIBA by the IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer.

He says the IOC is suspending any financial payments to the Federation including any money from Olympic Solidarity that may be due to AIBA. In December the IOC announced it was withholding the final payment for AIBA from the Rio 2016 Olympics, less than $1 million.

Signaling a deeper chill between IOC and the federation, the IOC says it will freeze all contacts with AIBA, "except the ones on the working level which are necessary to implement the respective IOC decisions".

The IOC wants to hear more from the Federation and is asking for a further report by April 30, 2018, which the federation promises to deliver.

The IOC says its decisions on the quotas and events for boxing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are final. That means the loss of two weight classes in the men’s division which boxing officials are afraid will lead to health and safety issues.

The federation leaders say the deal for Tokyo was struck by former president C.K. Wu last year without any consultation by Wu. At the extraordinary Congress last week, delegates representing 109 national governing bodies asked the federation to talk to the IOC about this decision.

The final blow comes as a warning to AIBA that the IOC "reserves the right to review the inclusion of boxing on the program of the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020".

While Bach spoke of "the total confusion of who was governing AIBA there at the end of the last year", he did not acknowledge the uprising against Wu, an IOC member from Chinese Taipei who was president from 2006 until his resignation in November 2017.

AIBA Executive Committee members rebelled when they learned Wu failed to inform them of perilous financial circumstances facing the federation.

Wu initially resisted efforts by the executive committee to take over AIBA. But a preponderance of evidence, including emails between Wu, his deputy and IOC officials eroded whatever trust remained and he resigned.

One condition of his resignation was that Wu be named as honorary AIBA president. But after delegates at the Extraordinary Congress learned of the allegations against Wu, they unanimously rejected the honorary title. Elected to the IOC in 1988 unrelated to AIBA, Wu still holds onto his seat despite the ignominious fall for him at the federation.

Bach also mentioned "former employees of AIBA against whom there are different procedures running or obviously playing a role in the administration of AIBA". It was a reference to former executive director Ho Kim who was fired by Wu in 2015.

In its December statement about AIBA, the IOC said it would not allow former executives to return to the federation. But votes by the AIBA congress and the executive committee have cleared Kim of any misdeeds while he held the job for eight years.

AIBA leaders have saidthey feel like firefighters who get in trouble for putting out the flames. The statement from AIBA shows a willingness to work with the IOC and to "not repeat any of the past mistakes and its commitment to a fresh, positive future centeredon good governance and sound management."

Reported by Ed Hula in PyeongChang.

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