AIBA re-assigns executive director in wake of Olympic judging controversy

Referee in Michael Conlan fight believed to have been sent home by governing body

Michael Conlan: launched tirade after controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Michael Conlan: launched tirade after controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Olympic boxing’s governing body, AIBA, has taken further action in the wake of the judging controversy which has rocked the Rio games.

AIBA confirmed that its executive director, the Algerian Karim Bouzidi, had been “re-assigned with immediate effect” to a new role in the organisation. This followed the expulsion of a number of judges – believed to total six – from the games in light of a series of officiating issues, chiefly involving defeats for Kazakhstan heavyweight Vassiliy Levit and Ireland’s Michael Conlan.

One of those officials who is believed to have been sent home is another Algerian, Kheira Sidi Yakoub, who both refereed the Conlan fight and scored the heavyweight final in favour of Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko.

The beleaguered governing body blundered further on Thursday by issuing a subsequently corrected statement which mistakenly claimed: “AIBA . . . remains fully committed to a zero-tolerance policy towards fair play in boxing.”

The corrected version read: “Further to the decision taken yesterday by AIBA with regard to the reassessment of the judges and referees officiating during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the AIBA vice-presidents and executive board members have decided to re-assign with immediate effect the current AIBA executive director to a new role within the organisation.

“Consequently, the operational responsibilities for the remainder of the Olympic boxing competition will now fall under the responsibilities of the most senior vice-president of the AIBA executive board, Mr Franco Falcinelli, the European Boxing Confederation president.

“The Olympic Games, of which boxing has been a part since 1904, represent the pinnacle of all sports. Since the beginning of Rio 2016, AIBA has conducted over 250 bouts and remains fully committed to fair play in boxing, always seeking to act in the boxers’ utmost interests.

“The decisions taken emphasise that AIBA will not shy away from its responsibilities and will continue to ensure a level playing field and a fair and transparent sport. It is of paramount importance to protect our sport and its R&J [referees and judges] community, whose integrity has been put into question.”

A number of the officials involved in the Levit and Conlan bouts continued to operate at the games on Thursday, although there was still no sign of Ireland’s Michael Gallagher, who is among those believed to have been sent home.

Conlan launched a furious, expletive-laden tirade live on RTÉ immediately after he dropped a points verdict to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.

Such was the punishment sustained by Nikitin that he was unable to contest his bantamweight semi-final against Shakur Stevenson on Thursday afternoon, with the American granted a walkover.

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