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Independent inquiry now urgently needed if AIBA boxing is to regain public confidence
by Michael O'Neill
January 28, 2017

(JAN 28) On Saturday, as a service to our readers we published an AIBA Press Release into the events in Rio which brought the Olympic boxing tournament into disrepute – that Press Release concluded that “Whilst the Special Investigation found no active interference in the results, AIBA moved quickly to identify those involved and took the necessary steps to ensure its officials will no longer become scapegoats for close decisions which are an inherent aspect of the sport.”

“AIBA defends the integrity of its expert R&Js who operate in difficult, subjective circumstances, but we have shown that we are also not afraid of making difficult decisions for the good of boxing”.

Are these officials living in the REAL world? Scapegoats for close decisions? Does any member of the Special Investigations team SERIOUSLY believe that Michael Conlan’s ‘defeat’ at the hands of Russian Vladimir Nikitin was a ‘close decision’. The Russian was so badly bruised and battered that he was not even fit to take part in his next fight.

Equally what about the truly shocking ‘win’ for Russian heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko, who ‘beat’ Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit to claim gold? Even the predominantly Brazilian crowd booed that decision.

What about American Gary Antuanne Russell who was deemed to have ‘lost’ to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov? Other countries and their Head Coaches and media bitterly complained too.

So what have they done? The statement itself is ambiguous. On the one hand they say they defend the integrity of their ‘experienced Referees & Judges’ but on the other hand they say they have disbanded their top tier 7 Five Star officials’. If indeed they have dispensed with their services then the Boxing community should be told who these seven are (name them and shame them) and precisely WHY have they been removed from the AIBA structure?

We recall that all 36 Referees and Judges had been temporarily sidelined immediately following the Rio Games it now says that some of those 36 would now be reintegrated “on a case by case basis” – again they do not say how many and there is a huge difference between say re-admitting “1 or 2” and say “33 or 34”. Do they not know how many they plan to take back into the fold?

You will also recall that the AIBA had previously maintained there were no issues with how the Olympic draws were made, now clearly there were for here we are, and the Association have now removed that system too and will assign officials in future using the automated Swiss Timing system. That at least is a welcome move it has to be said.

The fact remains that the Association’s own investigation has done no more than create even further confusion. How can the boxing community have faith in a “secret” investigation carried out by ITS OWN quote “AIBA Special Investigation Committee (SIC), consisting of experts from its Refereeing and Judging (R&J), Technical and Rules, as well as Disciplinary Commissions”.

Only when such a detailed investigation has reported back can the I.O.C and the AIBA expect to regain the confidence of the boxing community. Without that confidence being restored INDEPENDENTLY it is difficult to understand how the ‘once Amateur’ sport can fully recover from the damage inflicted in Rio.

Our own interpretation of the original release is quite similar to that of many International News Media outlets. For example the London “Guardian” who originally broke some of the stories on these topics says this weekend : “The world governing body for amateur boxing has permanently removed all of its so-called “five-star” judges from international competition and admitted that “a concentration of decision-making power” and “an unwelcome axis of influence” affected its judging during a hugely controversial Rio Olympics.”

Leading journalist Sean Ingle who has been following the saga since before the Rio Games confirmed that the executive director, Karim Bouzidi, who had operational control of a boxing competition in Rio scarred by repeated allegations of corrupt judging, was “reassigned” in the middle of the Games and has since left his role.

The group of five-star judges, defended by Aiba when the Guardian originally identified grave concerns over corruption at the Rio Games, has now been disbanded.

What IS clearly needed now is for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to order a completely INDEPENDENT inquiry and yes that also means NO IOC officials being involved for clearly the AIBA is the National Governing Body for the Sport but RESPONSIBLE to the IOC for Olympic Boxing. Thus it could not be deemed INDEPENDENT for an ‘in-house’ IOC inquiry either.

WBAN therefore appeals to the IOC to ‘once and for all’ end these “secret investigations” being carried out “in-house” place the matters in the hands of an external body headed by a Judge who has full authority to call witnesses from within the AIBA and without and that includes referees, judges, boxers, coaches and not only Mr Karim Bouzidi but also the full Executive Board of the AIBA including the President plus the members of the ‘Special Investigation Unit’, and all of their initial reports must be made available in their entirety to such a new Independent body.

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