IBA says reform criteria met, decries Olympic ban

Boxing

With boxing teetering on the brink of Olympic elimination, the International Boxing Association (IBA) told the International Olympic Committee it had met its reform criteria, and any ban lacked legal basis.

In their report to the IOC, obtained by Reuters through a source with knowledge of the proceedings, it also blamed the Olympic body for unilateral actions and for making false statements.

The IBA report was sent to the IOC ahead of its Executive Board meeting later in June, where it will discuss progress of the reforms of the international federation.

The IOC has already provisionally excluded the sport from the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics with a final decision expected at its session in India in October.

“IBA did its best to eliminate IOC’s concern on IBA’s different areas of work and to improve them, such as finances, governance and sports integrity,” the IBA report said.

The IOC suspended the IBA in 2019 over governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues and did not involve it in running the boxing events at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

It demanded immediate reforms before a decision on the sport’s inclusion is taken but has warned repeatedly the IBA was not doing enough.

The IOC is also in charge of the boxing qualifiers for the Paris Olympics.

“IBA did not find in the IOC Correspondence of 6 April 2023 any link to a specific rule of law that has been breached by IBA to be in the situation of potential withdrawal of the IOC’s recognition, but merely mention of an alleged unwillingness to cooperate,” the IBA said in the report.

The IBA has been run since 2020 by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev, whose actions in the past years have led to the creation of a breakaway group called World Boxing with several countries having left the IBA to join the new organization.

Kremlev, who had brought on Russian energy giant Gazprom as a sponsor, boosting the IBA’s troubled finances, has struggled to maintain the unity of his organization.

CRITERIA MET

“IBA is of the opinion that it successfully met the criteria mentioned in the roadmap,” it said, adding that progress had been made on every front.

It also blamed former president and then-IOC member CK Wu for much of the IBA’s woes dating back to 2016 when he was in charge.

“It is necessary to remind that CK Wu at that time was an IOC member, and it is completely wrong that IBA bears full responsibility for the wrongdoings of the IOC member,” the IBA said.

“It is hard to believe that the IOC was not aware of the problems in the International Federation led by the IOC member, especially, most of these problems were directly connected with the Olympic Games and its qualifying tournament.”

It said the IBA had settled all outstanding financial issues and debts, thanks to the Gazprom deal that triggered considerable criticism since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The company is no longer a sponsor and the IBA said it has since diversified revenues.

“IBA settled all debts of the previous management,” it said. “Concern on Gazprom has no basis since Gazprom sponsorship agreement expired on 31 December 2022, and it has not been extended.”

FALSE STATEMENT

“In addition, it is false statement by the IOC that no information on diversify of the IBA revenues has been provided by IBA,” it said.

“IBA keeps working on diversification of its incomes. In particular, we significantly increased our incomes from the licensing program, TV and marketing rights, and hosting the competitions.”

It criticized the IOC for taking over the Paris 2024 qualifiers without consulting the IBA.

“With regret, IBA admits that on 24 June 2022, the IOC unilaterally decided to conduct qualifying events and the boxing competitions at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 without participation of IBA, that itself created a problematic situation in boxing,” the report said.

A dispute over access to key competition officials was down to the IBA “protecting its investment”, it said.

“IBA is simply protecting their investment and know-how given that there has been no clarity on how the Paris 2024 Boxing Unit will select officials,” it said.

“The IOC surpassed IBA completely and contacted the officials without prior agreement of data sharing between the two entities.”

It also accused the IOC of stonewalling the IBA despite repeated requests for a meeting.

“Only this year IBA offered many times to enter into dialogue, however, all these requests have been disrespectfully ignored,” it said.

“IBA seeks acknowledgment of the extraordinary work done under the new management and requests a collaboration… in order to have the event run at the highest level.”

“Withdrawal of the IBA’s full recognition by the IOC will be not justified, fair and legally correct decision,” it said.

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