AIBA Follies: Prez Won't Quit, Exec Director Fired

(ATR) Istanbul is the site of the latest episode in the drama of the IOC-suspended boxing federation.

(ATR) Interim president Mohamed Moustahsane withdraws his resignation from the troubled boxing federation, which still faces looming collapse.

AIBA has been under IOC watch since 2017 for a range of issues that include ethics, governance, finance and refereeing. Since then the IOC has suspended payments to AIBA for its share of TV revenues. In June, based on the findings of an ad hoc committee of IOC members, the IOC suspended AIBA from its role organizing boxing at the Olympics.

Moustahsane, who leads the African Boxing Confederation, had previously signaled his intention to resign as interim president after less than six months in the post.

But when the dust settled from Saturday’s meeting of the ruling executive committee, Moustahsane remained in the chair. His continued tenure could be considered a move towards some semblance of stability for AIBA, averting the need to name a fourth interim leader in two years. The IOC is said to favor the physician from Morocco at least as a caretaker until a new president is elected.

But other outcomes of the meeting that took place in Istanbul may not be confidence inspiring for those hoping the federation can find a way to return to the good graces of the IOC.

Topping that list would be the firing of Tom Virgets as executive director. The American came aboard in 2018 and tried to push the federation forward towards rapprochement with the IOC at the same time trying to keep AIBA functioning despite a gutted staff and bleak finances.

The move to oust Virgets was taken with just days to go before the men’s AIBA Boxing World Championships in Russia, followed weeks later by the women’s championships, also in Russia.

EC member Pat Fiacco of Canada, who could not go to the Istanbul meeting, tells Around the Rings he tendered his resignation from the leadership panel after hearing what the EC did notdo.

Despite specific requirements from the IOC for AIBA to reclaim its Olympic status, the EC made no apparent headway towards satisfying the IOC.

AIBA is still without a plan as to how it will avoid its financial demise. With debt mounting to near $20 million and no sources of revenue, the federation is at a precipice.

No progress was reported either on the governance and ethical reforms that the IOC wants AIBA to adopt. Nonetheless, the AIBA EC is still committed to a November 15 extraordinary congress in Lausanne where these reforms are supposed to be debated and approved. Staging a congress with 140+ delegates probablycosts hundreds of thousands, whether euros or dollars.

The election of a new president, once contemplated for the November congress, is now postponed for another congress to be scheduled some months later. Those plans could be moot if there's no money to pay for a congress. As of June, AIBA supposedly had about $400,000 in cash.

In his letter to Moustahsane, Fiacco laments what he sees is failure to act.

"I am surprised and disappointed that the EC have not addressed the issues that the IOC have asked the EC to address. At the last EC meeting in Geneva we were given clear direction from the IOC representatives. However, we have not worked on any of the finance and governance issues.

"We have two world championships in the next six weeks and nobody seems to be paying attention to the athletes, coaches and officials.

"Tom Virgets has been terminated at today’s meeting and we have an office with no support staff.

"I am very disappointed that this is the direction the majority of the Executive Committee has taken. I wish you all the success in attempting to save AIBA, unfortunately, I do not agree with the direction the majority of the EC has decided to go," Fiacco writes.

"The EC refuses to deal with the finances of the organization," Virgets tells ATR.

"I’m sure others will resign," Fiacco predicts.

No comment from the AIBA interim president or from Virgets.

Written by Ed Hula

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