Boxing-World amateur body IBA accuses Olympic organisers of persecution

  • Boxing
  • Thursday, 08 Dec 2022

FILE PHOTO: International Boxing Association (AIBA) President Umar Kremlev attends a news conference ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/

LONDON (Reuters) - Amateur boxing's Russian-led world governing body accused Olympic organisers of persecution on Thursday in a hard-hitting response to its continued suspension over governance and finance issues.

The International Boxing Association (IBA) asked how it could "quench the IOC's continued thirst to persecute our organization and its athletes" and said "significant progress" had not been recognised.

It added that it was clearing up a 'tainted legacy' left by a former president who was once a leading figure in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"We continue to be punished for a culture of corruption that was created and nourished by some of the individuals from the IOC’s upper echelon," the IBA said.

"This culture of corruption was developed over time and fixing it will take time to be done right, which has been ongoing for more than two years."

The IBA was not involved in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and boxing is not on the initial programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Games pending reforms demanded by the IOC. Qualifying for Paris 2024 is being organised by the IOC.

The IBA, previously AIBA, was run by Taiwan's Ching-kuo Wu from 2006 to 2017. He was also a member of the IOC's executive board and stood against current incumbent Thomas Bach for IOC president in 2013.

Banned for life by AIBA in 2018, Wu has denied any wrongdoing.

The IBA is now run by Russian Umar Kremlev with backing from Russian energy firm Gazprom -- a matter the IOC has said is of grave concern.

The boxing body has also moved to allow boxers from Russia and Belarus to compete with their national flags and anthems, counter to IOC guidance following Moscow's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a 'special operation'.

On Tuesday the IOC sent the IBA another letter saying it could not lift the suspension because a required "drastic change of culture" had not been implemented.

The IBA said it had no option but to find sponsors because the IOC had blocked money generated by the sport and its athletes at the Olympic Games.

"The IOC creates a problem for each solution we provide," it added.

"All the IOC criticism is done in a manner to discredit the leading experts who have worked on the previous reports and investigations within the Olympic movement, which is deplorable."

The IBA commissioned an independent investigation led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren that exposed bout manipulation at the 2016 Rio Games.

A McLaren-led investigation previously revealed widespread, state sponsored doping in Russian sport that led to the country being banned from all international athletics competitions, including the Rio 2016 Olympics.

IBA said it remained opened for dialogue and would "continue making every effort to ensure that our athletes have a home in our boxing family and the Olympic Games."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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