The Sports Examiner: IOC Exec Board recommends IBA out, boxing in for ‘24

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The final page of the International Olympic Committee’s detailed, sober and even sad 24-page report on the International Boxing Association and its fitness as an international federation came to the inevitable conclusion:

“Despite the various chances given to the IBA, including the Roadmap 2021 to 2023, to address the various concerns with actual, effective evolution, the IBA was unable to provide the elements which would have allowed the lifting of its suspension. Therefore, it is not possible to reach any conclusion other than to confirm the analysis made by the IOC Session in 2019, which was at no time contested by the IBA, on the necessity to withdraw the IOC’s recognition of the IBA. Effectively, the situation has become so serious that the only proportional conclusion is to withdraw the IOC’s recognition of the IBA pursuant to the Olympic Charter.”

And this led to the final statement: “the IBA should not organise the Olympic Games LA28 boxing tournament.”

The IOC decided to act quickly on the IBA matter and in addition to Wednesday’s unannounced Executive Board meeting, it has also scheduled an additional, remote Session of the IOC on 22 June 2023 to

(1) Vote on the recommendation to withdraw recognition of the IBA as the recognized international federation for boxing, and

(2) to confirm boxing’s place on the program for Paris in 2024.

No vote was scheduled on boxing for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles; this is expected to be considered at the scheduled IOC Session in Mumbai (IND) in October.

The report detailed what the IOC has continually seen as IBA’s failures in governance, finance and refereeing and judging, including:


● “In her report dated 31 March 2023, [British attorney and governance reviewer] Kendrah Potts made similar observations, emphasising the still ongoing lack of effective implementation of the [Governance Reform Group]’s recommendations, which continues to raise concerns about the IBA’s governance.”

● “Both the GRG and Ms Kendrah Potts took into consideration not only the positive evolution in the IBA’s statutes, but also the continuous lack of their effective implementation in the actual practice and activities of the IBA.”

● “Perhaps the most problematic example identified by Ms Potts is the lack of democracy, in particular as the elections were significantly impacted by the decision of the Independent Nominations Unit (INU) to exclude five individuals from the elections of the President and Board of Directors members, which was subsequently overturned by the CAS. The IBA Board of Directors’ decision to ask the Congress whether or not a new election should take place, rather than organising new elections with all the eligible candidates, including the right for each of them to promote their candidature, was in fact a disrespect of the CAS decision, at least in its spirit.”

● “As a consequence of the elements analysed above, it clearly appears that, four years after the last IOC Session decision and despite the many opportunities provided to the IBA, the IOC’s concerns regarding AIBA-the IBA’s effective governance are still unaddressed.”


● “One may conclude that the IBA’s cash position can only be expected to further decline after June 2023, if the expenditure is maintained at the current budget level and no additional sources of revenues are contracted for the next period. It is understood from the IBA’s audited financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2022 (‘other deferred income’) and from the budget that the IBA’s sources of revenue were primarily deriving from the result of the previous contract concluded with Gazprom.”

Refereeing and Judging:

● “Regarding the competition phase, a number of potential risks in the integrity of the IBA’s R&J processes were already apparent from the analysis of the rules available in the public domain, which contained a number of inconsistencies and contradictions, in particular with regard to the R&J draw, R&J evaluation, bout review and competency of the Observer.”

The IOC report also noted IBA audit reports which questioned its ability to function as a going concern, and its view that all of its debts had been redeemed or excused. IBA comments which disparaged the IOC were also noted, with the conclusion “that the IBA has no interest in continuing to belong to the Olympic Movement under the leadership of the IOC. In fact, the IBA does not need the IOC’s recognition to continue its activities outside the Olympic Movement as part of the wider sports community.”

And, if the IOC Executive Board’s view is confirmed by the special, remote Session on 28 June, the IBA will be part of the wider sports community and not part of the Olympic Movement.

Observed: The IOC is ready to jettison the IBA as soon as possible. An unannounced Executive Board meeting was called, with a special Session in 15 days to confirm the decision to remove the IBA’s affiliation with the Olympic Movement.

No waiting for the Mumbai Session and the inevitable lobbying campaign that would be launched to keep the IBA in. The IOC wants the IBA out now.

That’s just one of the impacts of Wednesday’s moves by the IOC. More:

● The biggest immediate winner are boxers themselves, whose place at the Paris Games had been in doubt because of the IBA’s antics. The IOC has said, multiple times, that it has no issues with the boxers or boxing, but the IBA.

The IOC’s moves are also a positive sign for boxing’s place in Los Angeles for 2028, which are now looking up, but is not yet assured. That will come later.

● The 106 federations who backed Russian Umar Kremlev in the ill-advised, September 2022 vote not to have a IBA Presidential election re-run against then-Dutch Boxing Federation chief Boris van der Vorst, are now in a bad spot, having chosen a leader who has overseen the federation’s impending exit from the Olympic Movement.

What do they do now? What of their funding from their National Olympic Committee or national government?

● The IOC’s move obviously strengthens the possibilities for the new World Boxing group, which so far has applications coming from Great Britain, Switzerland and the U.S. How quickly it grows will be fascinating to watch; the IOC’s report did not mention the new group.

If confirmed, Wednesday’s actions will remove an international federation which was essentially a captive of the Russian government. Kremlev was the Secretary General of the Russian Boxing Federation prior to his election in 2020 and brought in the state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to solve the federation’s financial problems. This is not the outcome that was foreseen and could stall similar future takeover concepts.

The IOC’s move is historic, and is the first time in memory that it has actually thrown a federation out, as opposed to removing a specific sport from a specific Olympic Games. That fact will not be lost on the other IFs.

The International Boxing Association reacted with predictable fury to the IOC Executive Board recommendation:

“The International Boxing Association (IBA) considers the IOC Executive Board (EB) recommendation to withdraw IBA’s recognition truly abhorrent and purely political, as all the efforts undertaken by the IBA, with its democratically elected leadership constituting the international of boxing during last two years were largely ignored and not taken into consideration by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). …

“The IBA as the home of boxing reserves its right to take retaliatory measures, as the organization in its current state will never acknowledge the assertion that IBA is not compliant with the standards of good governance or that IBA does not deserve its place at the Olympic movement.”

IBA chief Kremlev stated, in part:

“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court.

“This is watershed moment for not just IBA but for all International Federations (IFs), as what it is taking place now is a litmus test to gauge the level of apathy within IFs and the Olympic movement. Strong, autonomous, and financially independent IFs should be keenly aware and concerned as they are witnessing the time tested political and strategic tool of orchestrated coups for the sake of regime change, leaving only one winner, the organization seeking absolute power, and many losers consisting mainly the athletes.

“Today this happens to IBA and becomes a precedent for others, so everybody should be concerned about the unchecked power of the body that has no limits.”

In Russia, State Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova, the 2006 Olympic women’s 500 m speed skating winner, told the Russian news agency TASS:

“This was to be expected, no matter how much we resisted. It is clear that the IOC cannot allow our athletes to perform with an anthem and a flag, which is why they made such a recommendation. This is an absolutely political story, there is no sport here, everyone understands this very well.”

Fellow State Duma member Nikolai Valuev, twice WBA heavyweight champ between 2005 and 2009, said:

“This is an unauthorized decision, purely political. Apparently, they want to recognize the opposition organization, but even if they don’t want it, they are being persuaded to do so.

“In today’s realities, it will be difficult for the IBA to defend its rights, there is no hope – there is no need to talk about the fairness of international courts today.”

Alexei Tishchenko, a double Olympic boxing gold medalist in 2004 and 2008, told TASS:

“Yes, this is due to the fact that Umar Kremlev heads the federation and does not heed calls to remove the Russians.

“The prize fund of the world championships was increased, the athletes began to earn. And now the IOC is trying to show other federations by this example that if they allow the Russians, it will be the same.”

~ Rich Perelman

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