Thursday 19 July 2018

Future of boxing as Olympic sport in doubt as AIBA are given timeline to address 'major concerns'

A furious Michael Conlan after defeat in Rio
A furious Michael Conlan after defeat in Rio
2nd SPORTS FEATURE Boxer Michael Conlan reacts towards the judges following his Bantamweight Quarter final defeat to Vladimir Nikitin of Russia during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil Stephen Mc Carthy SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrick

THE future of boxing as an Olympic sport remains in doubt. The International Olympic Committee has given the International Boxing Association two months to address what are described as "major concerns" within the sport.

Boxing has been in crisis at world level since the Rio Olympics which was marred by a succession of scandals including the controversial defeat of Ireland's then bantamweight World champion Michael Conlan.

While much of the focus at this week's International Olympic Committee meeting in Lausanne was on the expulsion of Russia from next year's Winter Olympics, major concerns were raised over "governance, financial and technical issues" within the AIBA.

According to the Inside the Games website the IOC has given the AIBA two months to produce a full report on these issues.

Until then the IOC will withhold funds from the AIBA but will provide them with finance to run competitions including the summer Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires next year.

The stand-off between the two organisations was exacerbated by an internal power struggle in the executive of the AIBA which culminated in the suspension of its long-time President Dr CK Wu.

This row has now been settled with Dr Wu becoming the association's honorary President and Italian Franco Falcinelli taking over as President on an interim basis.

An extraordinary general assembly of AIBA is scheduled for Dubai at the end of January at which it is expected that they will agree on a response to the IOC's demands.

"The IOC Executive board has major concerns. There is governance issues, there is the fact that the financial statements have not been made fully transparent, there are still questions open with regard to judging, referees and anti-doping. We want to see the measures they are taking to address these issues before the end of January," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The boxing tournament at the Rio Olympic became mired in massive controversy over two judging decisions.

In the heavyweight final  Russian Evgeny Tishchecko was adjudged to have beaten Kazakhstan's Vassily Levit while Conlan, the gold medal favourite, was judged to have lost to another Russian boxer, Vladimir Nikitin, in the quarter-final. In both fights everybody other than the judges believed that Levit and Conlan had triumphed.

The fall out resulted in the AIBA's so called panel of six super judges/referees being stood down and the executive director of the tournament being reassigned. Eventually all 36 judges and referees who officiated in Rio were temporarily suspended after the tournament.

The AIBA also introduced a Swiss Timing electronic draw system to select judges  and referees at the World championships in Hamburg this year – the process was overseen by leading Irish boxing official Breandán Ó Conaire.

The IOC also wants the organisation to step up its out-of-competition anti-doping programme following revelations that they only carried out one test in 2014 and 2015.

The doping test that Ireland's Michael O’Reilly failed on the eve of the Rio Games was carried out by Sport Ireland.

Significantly, the IOC has also expressed discontent over the decision of the AIBA's Executive Board then Presided over by Dr Wu, to include two new weight divisions for women at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which would have almost certainly meant that two men's weight division would have been dropped.

Boxing has been an integral part of the modern Summer Olympics since 1896 with boxing taking place at every Olympics bar the 1912 Games in Stockholm – boxing was banned in Sweden at the time.

It has been Ireland's most successful Olympic sport with 15 Irish boxers winning 16 medals since the first in 1952.

Online Editors

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