World amateur organization IBA accuses Olympic organizers of persecution

The Russia-led world governing body of amateur boxers on Thursday accused the Olympic organizers of persecution in a dogged response to the continued suspension over governance and financial issues.

The International Boxing Association (IBA) asked how it could “quench the IOC’s lingering thirst to prosecute our organization and its athletes” and said “significant progress” was not recognized. It added that it was clearing a “tainted legacy” left by a former president who was once a leading figure in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“We continue to be punished for a culture of corruption that was created and nurtured by a few individuals from the upper echelons of the IOC,” the IBA said.

“This culture of corruption has developed over time and it will take time to get it right, which has been going on for more than two years.”

The IBA was not involved in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and boxing is not on the original schedule for the 2028 Los Angeles Games pending reforms demanded by the IOC. The qualification for Paris 2024 is organized by the IOC.

The IBA, formerly AIBA, was led by Taiwanese Ching-kuo Wu from 2006 to 2017. He also served on the IOC’s board of directors and ran against current incumbent Thomas Bach as IOC president in 2013. Banned for life by AIBA in 2018, Wu has denied any allegations.

The IBA is now run by Russian Umar Kremlev with backing from Russian energy company Gazprom – a matter the IOC says is deeply concerning. The boxing body has also moved to allow boxers from Russia and Belarus to compete with their national flags and anthems, in violation of IOC guidelines after Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Moscow, which made Russia a ‘ special operation’.

On Tuesday, the IOC sent the IBA another letter saying it could not lift the suspension because a required “drastic culture change” had not been implemented. The IBA said it had no choice but to seek sponsors because the IOC had blocked money generated by the sport and its athletes at the Olympics.

“The IOC creates a problem for every solution we provide,” it added.

“All of the IOC’s criticisms have been made in a way to discredit the leading experts who have worked on the previous reports and investigations within the Olympic movement, which is regrettable.”

The IBA commissioned an independent investigation led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren that uncovered manipulation during the 2016 Rio Games. A McLaren-led investigation previously revealed widespread state-sponsored doping in Russian sport, leading to the country’s ban from all international athletics competitions, including the Rio 2016 Olympics.

IBA said it remained open to dialogue and would “continue to do everything it can to ensure our athletes have a home in our boxing family and the Olympics.”

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