PARIS — The long-standing rift and ongoing legal dispute between the International Olympic Committee and the boxing governing body it ousted this year could continue at Switzerland’s supreme court.
The Russian president of the International Boxing Association, Umar Kremlev, said Thursday it intends to appeal further if the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds the IOC’s ruling in June for expulsion from the Olympic family.
Kremlev spoke at a news conference in Paris — where next year’s Olympics will open in July and the IOC will run boxing tournaments for the second straight Summer Games — as the IBA’s appeal was being heard by sport’s highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“We’re not very worried about that, we’re more concerned for our boxers,” Kremlev said through a translator. “We believe this decision was unfair, but we have legal experts who are dealing with this. We will be defending our rights and if this doesn’t work with the CAS, we have a court in Switzerland we can refer to.”
The IBA was finally derecognized in a years-long dispute fueled by defying advice and instructions from the IOC, which had long cited concerns about boxing’s governance, reliance on money from Russian state energy firm Gazprom and the integrity of bouts.
“It’s not the Olympic family that took this decision but rather Olympic officials that have pushed this decision,” the 41-year-old Kremlev said. “The Olympic Games is a huge draw, and it is the athletes who draw viewers, not the IOC.”
Boxing kept its status as an Olympic sport for the 2024 Paris Games, but the IOC is overseeing the qualifying and medal tournaments without IBA involvement, as it did for the Tokyo Games in 2021.
A CAS verdict is not expected before early next year.
If the CAS judges uphold the IOC decision, Kremlev could appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, the country’s supreme court, but only on limited procedural grounds. Federal judges rarely overturn CAS rulings.
Kremlev said the IBA wants to have its world championships in France in 2026. In a contest for boxers’ loyalty, the IBA has promised prize money for medalists of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The IOC does not pay cash to Olympic medalists.
The IBA is hosting a congress and boxing competition on Dec. 9 in Dubai, which Kremlev hopes about 200 national federations will attend.
“We are an independent organization that defends athletes,” Kremlev said. “Obviously others can follow our example of how the sport should be developed.”
Kremlev and the IBA have consistently argued that Olympic boxing’s issues predate his leadership to when long-time IOC member C.K. Wu of Taiwan ran the sport. After Wu was ousted in 2017, the sport’s problems with the IOC intensified.
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.
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.
The IBA’s debts of nearly $20 million were cleared under Kremlev, who replaced Rakhimov in 2020.
Kremlev announced in May at the men’s world championships in Uzbekistan that the IBA was no longer sponsored by Gazprom, and his rhetoric against Olympic officials got more confrontational.
The IOC, meanwhile, is free to work with a new organization called World Boxing, which is scheduled to hold a news conference in Germany next week.
World Boxing has support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain, countries whose national federations resisted Kremlev’s leadership of the IBA.