AIBA: We're compliant with WADA code. WADA: No one said they weren't
By Callum Murray
AIBA, the beleaguered international federation for boxing in the Olympic Games, today continued its drive to show that it is reforming its governance by boasting “that it is in full compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency Code and working on intensifying its efforts in the fight against doping leading up to Tokyo 2020.”
The statement comes with AIBA still locked in a desperate battle to avoid boxing being kicked out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee over concerns about its governance and finances.
However, WADA told Sportcal today that AIBA had never been declared non-compliant with the code.
It continued: "In September, the executive committee discussed this issue. Given that the underlying condition triggering the potential non-compliance of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), namely RUSADA’s non-compliance was removed, the executive committee approved the independent Compliance Review Committee’s (CRC’s) recommendation that no further action be taken against AIBA in respect of the awarding of its 2019 Men's World Championships to Sochi, Russia. AIBA was, however, reminded of its obligation, moving forward, to comply scrupulously with the requirements of the new Article 20.3.11 of the Code."
WADA decided controversially in September to reinstate RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, which had been suspended in the wake of the doping scandal that has swept Russian sport in recent years.
Ahead of the reinstatement, sports governing bodies had been discouraged from awarding international events to Russia.Earlier this month, AIBA claimed that it is expected to move into the top half of summer Olympic federations, according to an assessment by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations of their standards of governance.
It subsequently lifted a provisional suspension imposed on Franco Falcinelli, its vice-president and also the president of the EUBC, the European Boxing Confederation.
Falcinelli was suspended from all of his roles in boxing following a letter he sent calling on members of the AIBA executive committee to back Kazakhstan’s Serik Konakbayev’s candidacy for president over controversial interim president (now president) Gafur Rakhimov.
In today’s statement, AIBA said that it has “put clean sport at the core of its strategy and strives to anchor the values of integrity and fair play within the boxing ecosystem. In recent months, AIBA has outsourced all its anti-doping activities and partnered with key stakeholders such as the Doping-Free Sport Unit of the Global Association of International Sports Federations’ and the International Testing Agency.
“Furthermore, significant updates and changes have been made with regards AIBA statues, aiming at promoting clean sport and safety of athletes. A new anti-doping educational programme has also been developed, dedicated to ensuring that all AIBA member federations and athletes are familiar with and understand the rules and regulations in place.”
Earlier this month, AIBA delivered another in a series of crucial reports on its governance to the IOC, as it bids to avoid the IOC acting on its threat to expel boxing from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The report (like previous ones) concerned “governance, finance, ethics, sport integrity, democracy, assessment, and WADA,” according to Tom Virgets, AIBA’s general director (pictured), who told AFP that it had been requested by the IOC not to publish the report until the IOC makes its decision.
The IOC said in a recent statement that it has “made it clear from the outset that there are issues of grave concern with AIBA regarding judging, finance, and the anti-doping programme, and with governance - which includes but is not limited to the election of the AIBA president.
“As planned, we will now carefully evaluate all these areas at the next IOC executive board meeting in Tokyo on 30 November - 2 December.”
Rakhimov is listed by the US Department of the Treasury as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals,” and has been accused by the US authorities of being “an important person involved in the heroin trade.”
Virgets said in today’s statement: “Our athletes depend on us to protect them and the integrity of our sport. This is a top priority for AIBA, and we are working hard together with our partners to ensure that our boxers can thrive in a clean environment and have equal chances of success. To be in full compliance with WADA is an immense achievement for our organisation.”
AIBA added: “In accordance with the proper Results Management Procedures, all cases that were open prior to 2018 have now been closed, which is a testament to AIBA’s commitment to clean sport and safety of athletes. Furthermore, based on the latest report of AIBA Anti-doping Activities provided by the International Testing Agency (ITA), over 450 in-competition and out-of-competition tests have already been conducted to date.”