Beleaguered AIBA takes action to prevent Rahimov returning to presidency
Gafur Rahimov, the controversial former president of AIBA, is being prevented from returning to the post, and new elections will take place in November after the international boxing association cancelled a critical bylaw.
The decision was taken at an extraordinary executive committee meeting in Geneva yesterday and followed this week’s decision of the International Olympic Committee to suspend AIBA from any involvement in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with a special taskforce to organise boxing qualifying competitions and games-time events.
A key factor in the IOC's move was the continued influence of the controversial Rahimov, AIBA's president from Uzbekistan, who stepped aside in March.
Rahimov 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,” allegations he steadfastly denies.
Suspension means AIBA will miss out on its projected $17.5-million share of Tokyo 2020 commercial revenue, further adding to its financial woes - it has debts of around SFr17 million ($17 million).
The AIBA executive committee has now removed Article 16.3 of the bylaw that would have enabled Rahimov to return to the presidency following his self-suspension, and a congress will take place in Lausanne on November 15 at which a new president and other leaders will be elected.
The move was supported by 13 members, with one against and eight abstentions.
In a statement, Umar Kremlev, the influential Russian member of the executive committee, said: “Today [Thursday] we have united and made serious decisions, got rid of the man who deceived the entire boxing community, saying that he would pay off all debts and find a common language with the IOC. He brought AIBA to the risk of bankruptcy. He should apologise to the entire boxing community.”
He added that he and Ukrainian Boxing Federation president Volodimyr Prodivus had announced a vote of no-confidence in AIBA interim president Mohamed Moustahsane and the chairman of the ethics committee Jost Schmid as supporters of the former leadership.
Meanwhile a commission has been established under Giorgio Brugnoli of England Boxing to discuss the restoration of AIBA to the IOC family.
The IOC has said it will review the suspension of AIBA after the Tokyo Olympics, but AIBA general secretary Tom Virgets said last week that the federation is on the verge of collapse.
The IOC executive board’s decision in May followed a six-month review of the organisation, after the IOC had frozen all preparations for the 2020 Olympics boxing tournament, including ticket sales, approval and implementation of a qualification system, test event planning and finalisation of the competition schedule, pending an inquiry into alleged governance and financial irregularities at AIBA.
There were also issues related to ethics and refereeing and judging, which had been identified as early as 2017, the IOC said, with "a lack of satisfactory progress" since.