Boxing sessions fixed at 2016 Olympics, says autonomous report

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LAUSANNE: Boxing bouts for medals at the 2016 Olympics were fixed by complicit and compliant referees and judges, an investigation reported on Thursday.

Investigator Richard McLaren was appointed by the International Boxing Association, referred to as AIBA, and located AIBA officials selected referees and judges to make sure that bouts might be manipulated in Olympic qualifying and at the Rio de Janeiro Games. He also found signs the 2012 Olympics in London were affected.

“Key personnel decided that the principles didn’t apply to them,” said McLaren, who added “there was a culture of fear, intimidation and obedience within the ranks of the referees and judges.”

There isn’t a final figure on what percentage fights could are affected. The investigation identified “in the vicinity of 11, perhaps less, and that’s counting those that we all know were manipulated, problem bouts or suspicious bouts,” including fights for medals, McLaren said.

Senior AIBA officials used their power to pick referees and judges and turned the commission which was alleged to ensure they were assigned fairly into a “mere rubber stamp”, McLaren said.

“This informal structure allowed complicit and compliant referees and judges … to be assigned to specific bouts to make sure the manipulation of outcomes,” he said.

The referees and judges who were selected generally “knew what was going on” alternatively were “incompetent” and willing to ignore signs of manipulation, and qualifying events for the Rio Olympics were wont to filter honest referees and judges, McLaren alleged.

Referees and judges were told who should win a bout within the morning before each day of fights at the Olympics, including during a lounge area “protected from prying eyes”, McLaren said. He wasn’t ready to identify who was ultimately liable for running the match-fixing scheme and selecting winners.

During the 2016 Olympics, there was a spotlight on judging after a contentious fight between Ireland’s Michael Conlan and Russian Vladimir Nikitin. After the judges awarded the fight to Nikitin, Conlan showed them his middle fingers and accused Russia and AIBA of corruption.

McLaren’s report didn’t offer a verdict on whether the results of that fight was fixed.

“Lads i would like my medal, catch on sorted and I’ll DM you my address,” Conlan told the AIBA on Twitter after they announced McLaren’s findings.

McLaren’s report includes witness testimony of discussions at the 2016 Olympics over a bribe of up to $250,000 for a Mongolian boxer to beat a fighter from France during a semifinal bout. The witness alleged a person from Kazakhstan working as a referee and judge asked for the cash in exchange for fixing the fight in Mongolia’s favor. No bribe was paid and therefore the Mongolian boxer lost with very unusual scoring which was identical on all five judges’ scorecards, the report states.

“The seeds of this were sown years before, ranging from a minimum of the Olympic Games of the 21st century through the events around 2011 and London 2012,” McLaren said.

“The qualifying competitions along the route to participation in Rio in 2016 were the practise ground for the corruption and manipulation of bouts at Rio. At the Olympic qualifiers, the manipulation methodology was fine tuned in anticipation of use in Rio.”

The report states then-AIBA president C.K. Wu instructed executive Ho Kim to make sure Turkish fighters qualified for the London Games because their country hosted an upscale qualifying competition, citing evidence from Kim.

Wu also allegedly urged officials that Azerbaijan shouldn’t win gold medals in boxing at the 2012 Olympics. This was after the BBC broadcast a documentary suggesting Azerbaijan’s medal hopes might enjoy a recent loan to AIBA from an Azerbaijani company. Azerbaijan won only two bronze medals in boxing in London.

McLaren said that Wu “bears ultimate responsibility for the failures of officiating at Rio and therefore the qualifying events” which he was supported by his executive Karim Bouzidi in Rio.

Taiwan’s Wu, who had been at the helm of the AIBA for 11 years, was suspended before he stepped down in 2017.

AIBA has been led by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev since December and says it’s reformed how bouts are judged since 2016, when ex-president Wu was responsible . Wu was a member of the International Olympic Committee until stepping down last year.

“AIBA hired Professor McLaren because we’ve nothing to cover ,” Kremlev said during a statement. “We will work to include any helpful recommendations that are made. we’ll also take legal advice with reference to what action is feasible against those found to possess participated in any manipulation. There should be no place within the AIBA family for anyone who has fixed a fight.”

None of the referees or judges from 2016 were in their posts for this year’s Olympics in Tokyo after being suspended by AIBA. This year’s Olympic tournaments were organized not by AIBA but directly by the IOC, which remains unhappy with how AIBA is run.

The International Olympic Committee said it might “carefully study” McLaren’s findings before choosing the results .

The IOC has thus far refused to verify boxing will stay the Olympic programme at the 2024 Games in Paris.

McLaren’s investigation will now broaden to look at newer tournaments, including those this year, and whether there was corruption in AIBA management going back decades.

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