Up to 10 suspicious boxing matches at 2016 Olympics, inquiry finds

One involves Michael Conlan’s controversial defeat to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin

Michael Conlan lost on a split decision  to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight division in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Games.  Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Michael Conlan lost on a split decision to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight division in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Games. Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

 

A major investigation into boxing at the 2016 Olympic Games has identified seven to 10 suspicious matches where bout manipulation is likely to have taken place.

It is understood that one of those fights involves the Irish boxer Michael Conlan, who lost on a hugely controversial split decision to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight division in Rio de Janeiro.

More details are expected on Thursday when Prof Richard McLaren, who conducted the 2016 inquiry into allegations of state-sponsored doping by the Russian Federation, will give a press conference in Lausanne to reveal details of the first stage of his investigation into amateur boxing.

McLaren and his team of investigators at Harod Associates have spent the last three months examining suspicious judging after a request by the amateur boxing’s governing body, Aiba, to look at corruption.

Rumours of alleged wrongdoing engulfed the 2016 Rio boxing tournament even before a punch was thrown – with it reported that there was “no doubt” certain bouts in Rio would be “corrupted”.

Horrified senior officials within the sport also said at the time that a cabal of officials were able to use their power to manipulate the judging system to ensure certain boxers would win.

Widespread fury

When the tournament got under way, there was then widespread fury after a number of highly questionable decisions, with Conlan going as far as to blame Aiba of corruption “from the core right to the top” after his defeat.

“They’re f**king cheats,” he said at ringside. “They’re known for being cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top. It’s about whoever pays the most money.”

In 2017 Aiba permanently removed all of its so-called “five-star” judges from international competition and admitted that “a concentration of decision-making power” and “an unwelcome axis of influence” affected its judging during the Rio Olympics.

However, it said it had found no “active interference” in the results but accepted there had been a “detrimental impact on in-competition best practice”.

Since then, Aiba has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee and there is growing fear in boxing circles that the sport could even be kicked out of the 2024 Olympics.

Disputed

However, amateur boxing’s governing body insists it has changed under the presidency of Umar Kremlev, who replaced Gafur Rakhimov – whose short tenure was dominated by him being on a US treasury department sanctions list as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals”, which he disputed.

As part of its reforms Aiba has asked McLaren to look again at the 2016 Olympics as part of a wider three-part investigation into the sport, which the governing body hopes will help it return to the IOC fold.

But only last week the IOC warned it had ongoing concerns about judging in the sport at the Aiba youth World Championships and Asian Championships held earlier this year.

The IOC’s executive board also restated its “deepest concerns” with Aiba’s governance and reiterated its previous position that boxing’s place in Paris 2024 was in doubt.

– Guardian

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