IOC banishes boxing governing body from Olympics, but the sport will still be at the Paris Games

FILE - The Olympic rings are set up in Paris, France, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 at Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, a day after the official announcement that the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be in the French capital. An IOC inspection team has given a resounding thumbs-up to Paris’ preparations for the 2024 Olympic Games. The IOC said Wednesday that Paris organizers are where they should be in their planning with 415 days to go before the opening ceremony. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)(AP/Michel Euler)

GENEVA (AP) — The International Boxing Association was banished from the Olympic family on Thursday, ending a years-long dispute fueled by defying advice and instructions from the IOC. Boxing, however, will keep its status as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Games.

The International Olympic Committee voted to derecognize the IBA at a specially called meeting — an outcome that was inevitable after being recommended two weeks ago by the executive board, a body chaired by IOC president Thomas Bach.

The vote was 69-1, with 10 members abstaining.

Boxing was never really in danger of being kicked out of the Olympics over the four years since the IOC suspended the sport’s governing body in an effort to force changes.

“We highly value the sport of boxing. We have an extremely serious problem with IBA because of their governance,” Bach told IOC members during their online meeting.

The dispute centered on the IBA’s management under presidents from Uzbekistan and Russia who the IOC disapproved of, its finances being backed by Russian state energy firm Gazprom, plus the integrity of bouts and judging.

“The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency,” the IOC president said.

The IOC is already overseeing boxing competitions for the Paris Olympics without IBA involvement, as it did for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

It was unclear if boxers representing national federations who stay affiliated to the IBA will be classed as eligible for the Paris competition.

Boxing can now be confirmed on the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic program, which the IOC and Bach withheld as leverage against IBA. Boxing is “guaranteed” to be in Los Angeles, members were told Thursday.

The sport is good for Olympic business with broad appeal — 25 different countries won boxing medals in Tokyo, with nine taking gold — and the IOC repeatedly said its problem was with boxing officials, not its athletes.

“We appreciate boxing as one of the most global sports. We embrace the values of boxing,” Bach said, praising the sport’s “important social role promoting inclusion.”

The IBA, which called the decision a “tremendous error,” can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The expulsion was “catastrophic for global boxing and blatantly contradicts the IOC’s claims of acting in the best interests of boxing and athletes,” the Lausanne-based boxing body said in a statement.

Olympic boxing has had a tainted reputation for decades, typified by notorious judging at the 1988 Seoul Games that denied American light-middleweight Roy Jones Jr. the gold medal against home fighter Park Si-hun. Jones, who now has Russian citizenship, was enlisted by the IBA last year to support its fight for Olympic status.

There were allegations ahead of the 2012 London Olympics of cash deals planned to fix medals, and further doubt cast by fighters on the integrity of bouts at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

At those Olympics, the president of boxing’s governing body, then known by its French acronym AIBA, was long-time IOC member C.K. Wu of Taiwan.

“The IOC has failed to recognize the destructive actions of C.K. Wu, who led the International Boxing Association to bankruptcy, collapse, and corruption at all levels,” the IBA said.

After Wu was ousted by boxing officials in 2017, the sport’s problems with the IOC intensified.

National federations defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing Gafur Rakhimov as president. The businessman from Uzbekistan allegedly had ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Umar Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC election warnings that went unheeded.

The IBA’s debts approaching $20 million were cleared under Kremlev and the IOC objected to the boxing body’s financial reliance on Gazprom.

Kremlev announced last month at the men’s world championships that the IBA was no longer sponsored by Gazprom, and his rhetoric against Olympic officials got more confrontational.

Thursday’s meeting went ahead after a late appeal by the IBA to CAS against the IOC board’s recommendation failed this week.

IOC vice president John Coates recused himself from the debate and vote on boxing because he has led the CAS management board for the past 12 years.

The IOC can now start to work with a rival organization created this year called World Boxing. It has drawn support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain, countries whose national federations resisted Kremlev’s leadership of the IBA.


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