Monday, October 25, 2021

Boxing events scheduled for 2016 Olympics, probe finds

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Boxing bouts for medals at the 2016 Olympics were decided by “cooperative and obedient” referees and judges, an investigation reported on Thursday.

Investigator Richard McLaren was appointed by the International Boxing Association, known as AIBA, and AIBA officials selected referees and judges to ensure that Olympic qualifying and bouts at the Rio de Janeiro Games were manipulated. can be done.

“Key personnel decided the rules did not apply to them,” said McLaren, who said there was “a culture of fear, intimidation and obedience in the ranks of referees and judges.”

There is no final figure on how many fights may have been affected. McLaren said the investigation has identified “around 11, probably fewer, and it is counting people we know are involved in manipulation, problem encounters or suspicious encounters”, McLaren said. .

McLaren said senior AIBA officials used their power to select referees and judges and turned over the commission, which had to ensure they were appropriately assigned in “mere rubber stamps”.

“This informal structure assigned complex and compliant referees and judges … to specific bouts to ensure the results were manipulated,” he said. McLaren alleged that referees and judges who generally “knew what was going on” or were “incompetent” and prepared to ignore signs of manipulation, and that qualifying events for the Olympics were used by honest referees and judges. was done to filter the judges.

McLaren said referees and judges were told who should win a bout the morning before a fight at the Olympics, including a lounge area “protected from prying eyes”. He was not able to identify who was ultimately responsible for running the match-fixing scheme and selecting the winners.

During the 2016 Olympics, there was discussion on whether to judge after a controversial fight between Ireland’s Michael Conlan and Russian Vladimir Nikitin. After the judges presented Nikitin with the battle prize, Conlon showed him his middle fingers and accused Russia and AIBA of corruption. The McLaren report did not give a ruling on whether the outcome of that fight had been settled.

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The McLaren report includes witness testimony discussing a bribe of up to $250,000 for a Mongolian boxer to defeat a French fighter in a semifinal bout at the 2016 Olympics. The witness accused a Kazakhstani man of acting as a referee and the judge asked for money in exchange for deciding the fight in Mongolia’s favor. The report stated that no bribes were paid and the Mongolian boxers lost with “very unusual scoring”, which was the same on the scorecards of all five judges.

Since December the AIBA has been led by Russian businessman Omar Kremlev and says it has improved the way bouts are assessed since 2016, when former president CK Wu was in charge.

“AIBA appointed Professor McLaren because we have nothing to hide,” Kremlev said in a statement. “We will work to incorporate any useful recommendations that are made. We will also seek legal advice as to what action is possible against those who participate in any manipulation. For anyone in the AIBA family, There should be no place that decided the fight.”

No referees or judges have been in their positions for this year’s Olympics in Tokyo since 2016 after being suspended by the AIBA. This year’s Olympic tournaments were not organized by AIBA but directly by the International Olympic Committee, which is unhappy with AIBA’s handling.

The IOC said this month it has “deep concern” about AIBA and has received complaints about referees and judges at two of AIBA’s major events this year, the Asian Championships and the World Youth Championships.

The IOC has so far declined to confirm that boxing will remain on the Olympic program at the 2024 Games in Paris.

McLaren’s investigation will now broaden to investigate whether there was corruption in AIBA management.

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