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bribe storm pushes aibA onto ropes

IOC President Jacques Rogge has welcomed an investigation by amateur boxing's governing body into allegations that millions have been paid to guarantee Azerbaijan two gold medals in the ring at next year's London Olympics.

The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) said it will look into the allegations made by BBC TV's Newsnight that $9m from Azerbaijan was paid to World Series Boxing, a franchised league supported by AIBA.

"We welcome the inquiry by the AIBA and we have asked the BBC to provide evidence ... we take every allegation very seriously," Rogge said.

Since the allegations surfaced, AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo has denounced the BBC claims saying they are "totally untrue and ludicrous", but added he would investigate them.

According to the BBC report, an Azeri national paid the money to a WSB competition.

The AIBA have since issued a statement saying a loan to WSB had been made by "an Azerbaijani investor ... made on a commercial basis and with a view to a commercial return for the investor."

AIBA said the claims "demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the procedures which lead to the award of Olympic boxing medals and the impossibility of influencing these."

The statement added: "Any suggestion that the loan was made in return for promises of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics is preposterous and utterly untrue."

The BBC report cited unnamed "whistleblowers" and "insiders" as having told its reporters they had been informed about a deal by WSB's chief operating officer Ivan Khodabakhsh. Khodabakhsh has denied the allegations as "an absolute lie".

The BBC's report comes days before the world amateur boxing championships start, on September 26, in Baku, Azerbaijan.