IOC threatens a boxing drop
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee has reiterated its threat to drop boxing from the Olympics, expressing “extreme concern” with how the sport is run after a businessman from Uzbekistan who has been accused by U.S. authorities of having ties to organized crime was announced to be running unopposed for president of the amateur boxing association.
AIBA’s document of “approved candidates” lists Gafur Rakhimov as the only choice ahead of next month’s presidential elections in Moscow. It wasn’t immediately clear why a rival candidate, the former Olympic medalist Serik Konakbayev, didn’t make the list.
Rakhimov was described by the U.S. Treasury Department last year as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals and an important person involved in the heroin trade.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control froze Rakhimov’s assets in American jurisdiction and prohibited Americans from “conducting financial or other transactions” with him.
Following the announcement that Rakhimov would run unopposed, the IOC said its board “expressed its ongoing extreme concern with the grave situation” at AIBA.
“The IOC reiterates its clear position that if the governance issues are not properly addressed to the satisfaction of the IOC at the forthcoming AIBA Congress, the existence of boxing on the Olympic program and even the recognition of AIBA as an International Federation recognized by the IOC are under threat.”
Since February, the IOC has warned boxing could be cut from the 2020 Olympics. The sport has been on the program at every Olympics since 1920 despite regular controversies over judging and allegations of fixed bouts.
Rakhimov has been serving as interim president of AIBA after the long-serving C.K. Wu resigned last year following internal disputes and allegations of grave financial problems at the governing body, which oversees amateur boxing, Olympic events and holds some of its own pro competitions.
In a sign of ongoing power struggles, AIBA said Tuesday that its upcoming congress would vote on whether to ban Wu and another official, Ho Kim, for life, citing what executive director Tom Virgets called “the gross negligence and financial mismanagement of the previous leadership.”
The AIBA executive committee also voted to suspend one of Rakhimov’s most influential opponents within the association, Franco Falcinelli, head of the European Boxing Confederation.
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