The congress of the International Amateur Boxing Federation (AIBA) to begin in Moscow today might be a turning point for the sport and its future in the Olympics.
Gafur Rakhimov, an Uzbek who has been linked to organized crime by the US Department of the Treasury, is one of two candidates standing for the position of AIBA president at the meeting.
Rakhimov has denied US government allegations, but the International Olympics Committee (IOC) last month froze relations with the AIBA and refused to accredit Rakhimov for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
The IOC move made it clear that it was prepared to kick the AIBA out of the Olympic movement and remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games if the “governance problems” in the ruling body are not resolved.
In February, the IOC said that it was worried by the nomination of the Uzbek businessman for the AIBA interim presidency, a position he still occupies.
The IOC has been losing patience with boxing since a judging scandal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, when all 36 officials and referees were suspended while allegations of bout-fixing were investigated.
An internal power struggle saw the previous president, Taiwan’s Wu Ching-kuo, ousted.
He was banned after a report by “forensic investigators” K2 Intelligence documented “gross negligence and financial mismanagement of AIBA affairs and finances.”
The ban needs to be ratified by member federations at the AIBA Congress in Moscow.
IOC president Thomas Bach in February said that he was “extremely worried about the governance of AIBA.”
Although amateur boxing’s under-fire chiefs handed over a crucial report on internal reforms to the IOC in April, the threat of losing a place in the Olympic movement remains.
“This report shows some progress and goodwill, but still lacks execution and substance in some areas,” Bach said in May.
“Therefore we retain our right to exclude boxing from Tokyo 2020,” he said.
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