IOC chief Thomas Bach pulls no punches: ‘We cannot see integrity with current boxing federation’

IOC chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday slammed the suspended global governing body of boxing — the International Boxing Association (IBA) headed by Russian Umar Kremlev — for their lack of integrity as the sport finds itself out of the initial program for Los Angeles 2028.

The IBA (earlier known as AIBA) has been suspended since 2019, with the IOC hosting the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020. The IOC will also host boxing at the Paris Olympics.

Talking to a select group of journalists in Mumbai ahead of the IOC session, Bach said: “With the IBA there’s no ongoing process, for us the case is closed. There will be no boxing with IBA in the Olympic program. It’s done! Full stop! We gave them four years, they have not met conditions set by us. The way they’re expressing themselves now and they’re behaving gives no hope that there will be an improvement.”

Bach’s comments came a few days after Kremlev issued a statement that the IBA was ‘deeply concerned about controversial judging at the Asian Games’. It must be noted that ironically the boxing federation had first found itself in trouble with the IOC due to controversial judging decisions at the Rio Olympics boxing event.

“Boxing’s (position in the Olympic program) is the clearest situation,” Bach said. “We have no problems with the sport or with the boxers. On the contrary, we want to have boxing and boxers. It is a very global sport. You can see it in all countries, whether developing or developed in any continent. Majority of boxers come from underprivileged families. Boxing gives them a great chance to progress in life. That’s why we want to have boxing in the program. But you can only promote these social values when you have an international federation with integrity.”

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“Unfortunately we cannot see integrity in the current governing body (IBA). We have given them the opportunity to make progress and improve. They have taken some minor steps in one or the other direction.”

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Bach said that while IBA have been announcing a lot but not so much has happened in reality. “At a certain level we have to pull the plug. And now it’s getting worse when it comes to financial transparency and governance. The judging and refereeing is not up to the standard that you expect from an Olympic sport. Since we wanted boxing on the program we undertook for the second time after Tokyo 2020 the responsibility of hosting the boxing event at Paris. We cannot do this forever. This is why I guess the result of these meetings here will be that (the fate of) boxing will remain hanging. We want to have it. But you have to find a way how and with whom (governing body),” Bach added.

Over the last few months, a breakaway boxing body — called World Boxing — has started to take shape. It was formed by the national boxing federations from Great Britain, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand among others.

When asked if there was a possibility of World Boxing getting recognition from the IOC at the upcoming session, Bach said: “It’s too early. I don’t know if they even have 20 member federations with them. At the moment, they don’t have sufficient global representation. Once they’re making progress there, we’re ready to look into other issues like governance is in order, elections are happening democratically etc. At the moment it’s up to them to organise themselves.”

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