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30 Sep, 2022 14:20

Olympic bosses set to intervene after Ukraine boxing ban

The International Boxing Association banned the Ukrainian National Boxing Federation for government interference last week
Olympic bosses set to intervene after Ukraine boxing ban

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has revealed it will conduct a full review into the International Boxing Association (IBA) and its ban on the Ukraine National Boxing Federation (FBU) when it next meets in December. 

The IBA suspended the FBU last week for government interference. It recognizes its vice president, Vladimir Prodyvus, as the FBU’s president, but Prodyvus’ claims to the FBU leadership have been challenged by Kirill Shevchenko – who has been given the right to execute the FBU’s legal acts by Ukraine’s ministry of justice.

“The IOC is extremely concerned about the situation in the federation (IBA),” the IOC said to Reuters on Friday. 

“Amongst other concerns, this includes the fact that the recognized Ukrainian National Boxing Federation was suspended shortly before the IBA Congress for disputed reasons,” it added.

With the FBU unable to participate in the IBA Congress, Russian businessman Umar Kremlev won a vote of confidence as organization president in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Sunday.

The IBA confirmed in a statement that its congress voted not to hold fresh presidential elections, with delegates casting 106 votes against the motion, 36 voting for it, and four abstaining out of 146 eligible national federations.

On the Thursday before the vote, the FBU had written to IBA members calling for Kremlev to step aside or be voted out of power.

Less than a week after Kremlev won the vote, the IOC weighed in on the FBU’s treatment and that of the Ukrainian junior boxing team, which is performing under neutral status at the ongoing European championships in Italy. 

“The fact that the Ukrainian junior boxing team is not allowed to participate in the European Championship in Italy if they compete using national identifiers such as the national flag, anthem and any symbols of Ukraine adds to the many concerns expressed before,” the IOC said.

On Friday afternoon, unified WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Aleksandr Usyk, who won a gold medal for Ukraine at the London 2012 Olympics on the IBA’s watch, offered support to the junior boxing team.

“Umar, it’s not just a flag, these are the colors of freedom all over the world,” Usyk claimed to Kremlev on Instagram. 

“You can’t break the spirit of our men acting in the competition. You can’t even dream about it.

“Guys, you are great, and thank you for showing the whole world your bravery and power of spirit,” Usyk added to the team.

The IBA is already close to losing its place at the Olympic Games due to historic finance and refereeing scandals.

The amateur boxing organization was prevented from being involved in the Toyko Olympics last year, and the IOC will run boxing events at Paris 2024.

Pending wide-ranging reforms, boxing does not feature on the initial program for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

The IOC warned this month that the slow pace the reforms are moving at and IBA’s financial dependence on Russian gas giant Gazprom are also a cause for concern, with Kremlev accused of passing power from IBA’s Lausanne headquarters in Switzerland to his offices in Moscow.

Following the vote of confidence, Kremlev is expected to serve his full four-year term as IBA president won in December 2020.

He vowed to R-Sport in Russia that his organization “will do everything to make boxing a part of the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games”.

“No one can exclude us,” he added. “But for us, the IBA World Boxing Championships [in 2023] should be the most important thing, because this is our home.

“We need people who send children to boxing, and know that this is a ladder that you can climb high.”