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9 Sep, 2022 12:06

World boxing chiefs accused of ‘Gazprom dependence’

The Swiss-based International Boxing Association (IBA) is headed by Russia's Umar Kremlev
World boxing chiefs accused of ‘Gazprom dependence’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is concerned that the International Boxing Association (IBA) is too financially dependent on Russian energy giant Gazprom and that its reforms are moving too slowly while boxing's spot at the Olympics is under threat.

After stripping the IBA – formerly known as the AIBA – of its involvement at the Tokyo Olympics last year due to finance, refereeing and ethical issues, the IOC has also taken the authority away from qualification tournaments and competitions at the upcoming Olympics in Paris in 2024. 

When speaking at a press conference on Thursday, IOC sports director Kit McConnell revealed that given information the body has obtained in a report received on Wednesday, the IBA does not have "any new sources of revenue" while its dependence on Russian energy giant Gazprom is supposedly a worry.

"Dependency continues on the Russian company Gazprom," McConnell said, with the former Champions League sponsor also the biggest sponsor of the IBA.

"This has only been exacerbated, worsened by the fact that a number of the bank accounts (used by the IBA) are subject to sanctions in the current environment. There has been no mitigation on that reliance on one organization," McConnell further stated.

With IBA President and Russian businessman Umar Kremlev re-elected unopposed after his opponent Boris van der Vorst was disqualified just two days before a vote in Istanbul on May 14, the IOC, which recommended the ban on Russian teams and athletes heeded by many sporting federations earlier this year, made the allegation that increased power is being passed to Kremlev's office in Moscow and not at the IBA's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

According to McConnell, the IBA headquarters have been "stripped" of all senior officials and advisors, and it was warned that the IBA will miss out on the Games permanently if swift progress isn't made as part of reform plans agreed last year. 

"Boxing is currently not included in the sports program of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028," the IOC also said in a letter that was sent to Kremlev on Thursday.

"Considering the absence of a real evolution, the IOC Executive Board is not in a position to reverse this decision and will continue to monitor with grave concerns [the] IBA’s governance," it was also stressed.

After controversial decisions in boxing events and the discovery of a bout manipulation system, the IBA had to overhaul refereeing after the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

As the IOC's correspondence mentioned, boxing, which is one of the Games' most traditional sports where greats such as Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather fought before turning professional, hasn't been included in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics' initial program.