(ATR) Correspondence between the IOC and suspended boxing federation AIBA shows serious differences remain before AIBA can be reinstated. Boxing’s survival as an Olympic sport is at risk.
At the top of the IOC’s list of concerns is newly elected president Umar Kremlev. The former secretary general of the Russian Boxing Federation, Kremlev was the winner of a Dec. 12 election among five candidates for the AIBA presidency.
While not directly rejecting Kremlev as the AIBA president, a letter from the IOC released today reminds AIBA that previous leadership must be ineligible for election, according to a roadmap for reinstatement given to AIBA in 2019.
"Regarding the new leadership team we can only note that, despite the rebranding of the Executive Committee to a ‘Board of Directors’, those who were involved in AIBA’s leadership during the past years, specifically since the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and under Mr. Rakhimov’s mandate, are still in charge of the governance of AIBA, including yourself," says the letter to Kremlev from Nenad Lalovic, the IOC member tapped to oversee the situation with the boxing federation.
Gafur Rakhimov, elected AIBA president in January 2018, was chosen over IOC objections. Rakhimov, a Russian, is barred from travel to the US and a number of European nations due to alleged connections to criminal enterprises. Rakhimov resigned as AIBA president just months after his election but denies any ties to organized crime.
AIBA has been suspended by the IOC for almost two years, stripped from its duties organizing the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Olympics. Another IOC-appointed panel has assumed that job in the absence of the federation.
The suspension is the first ever carried out by the IOC against an Olympic sport federation. The IOC has taken several steps since its initial sanctions against AIBA in 2017. Chronic governance and ethical issues, doping shortcomings, integrity issues involving referees and judging at the Olympics and an onerous debt are among the challenges AIBA is facing in its 75th anniversary year.
Resolving that debt, variously estimated from $10 million to $30 million is the number two unresolved issue cited in the letter to Kremlev.
Kremlev claims he has a plan to eliminate the debt within six months of taking office.
The IOC letter also rejects AIBA plans to turn over its referee and judging system to Swiss Timing. The IOC says a new system developed with consultant PWC has been "particularlyappreciated" by boxers during qualification tournaments for Tokyo. The IOC added that AIBA’s efforts to develop a new R&J system appears to be subject to conflict of interest concerns.
IOC president Thomas Bach commented last month without being specific that the IOC was not satisfied with the changes at AIBA. Along with the presidential election, a new constitution was approved by AIBA delegates at their virtual congress in December. The objection to Kremlev’s election as the first item of concern by the IOC would seem to be forcing AIBA to once again choose a new leader. Kremlev is the fifth person to serve as AIBA president since 2017.
There was no immediate response from AIBA to the letter from Lalovic. The IOC sent copies of the letter to the 206 national Olympic committees and 158 national governing bodies for boxing.
In closing, Lalovic rejects a request from Kremlev to meet. More convincing changes will be needed from AIBA warns Lalovic.
"The IOC Special Monitoring Committee would just like to reiterate that, unless significant progresses are made, it will present its recommendations to the IOC Executive Board, which may include the exclusion of boxing from the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and beyond," he writes.
The letter today from Lalovic follows an exchange of correspondence with Kremlev Jan. 27 after the most recent meeting of the IOC Executive Board. In his letter to Lalovic, Kremlev says he believes the federation is making progress meeting the IOC demands.
"I agree that AIBA has many issues to resolve in order to meet the IOC recommendations and ensure a proper functioning of the organization," writes Kremlev.
"However, since the presidential elections held on 12 December 2020 we have already started to actively implement major reforms. We are striving to ensure that AIBA works effectively for the development of world boxing in accordance with the highest standards of the International Olympic Committee.
"In order to achieve this, to regain the recognition of the IOC and to reinstate AIBA within the Olympic family, we propose, together with the IOC Special Monitoring Committee, to draw up a roadmap with specific steps and timelines, that will allow the IOC to monitor our reforms and to ensure us, AIBA, that we are working in the right direction. We are more than ready to discuss this online or offline when you are available. The advice given by the IOC to AIBA is extremely important to us and we will ensure that this valuable advice is implemented," says Kremlev in his letter to the IOC.
Reported by Ed Hula.