Investigators to Examine Possible AIBA Boxing Corruption at Rio 2016 Olympics


The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is finally to confront the corruption allegations that have dogged it for years.

Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin (left) locks horns with Ireland’s Michael Conlan during a controversial bout at the 2016 Olympics. (The Irish Sun)

The amateur sports body has launched a third-party investigation into alleged match-fixing by its own judges, specifically at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The controversial championships led to the Olympic Committee booting AIBA from Tokyo 2020, due to begin next month.

Several bouts in Rio were subject to questionable decision making by judges, reaching a head in the fight between Ireland’s Michael Conlan and Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.

Conlan appeared to have comfortably beaten his opponent, but the judges disagreed and ruled for the Russian, prompting an obscene gesture from the Irishman.

They’re f***ing cheats,” he yelled into the ringside microphone. “They’re known for being cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.”

The next day, an incensed PaddyPower announced it would pay out bets on Conlan, regardless of the decision.

There were no reports from bookmakers of any suspicious betting patterns surrounding the matches under scrutiny.

AIBA Mixed Messages

In 2017, AIBA launched an internal investigation into its officials’ practices in Rio and appeared to admit there had been a problem, which it confusingly denied in the same breath.

“The key findings indicate that, due to a lack of proper procedural norms, a concentration of decision-making power and the assigning of roles assumed by former senior management that had a detrimental impact on in-competition best practice,” read the report.

“Whilst the Special Investigation found no active interference in the results, AIBA moved quickly to identify those involved and took the necessary steps to ensure its officials will no longer become scapegoats for close decisions which are an inherent aspect of the sport.”

Russian Doping Investigator Leads Probe

This time, it’s pulling no punches. Leading the new investigation is Professor Richard McLaren, the man who blew the lid of the Russian doping scandal. He identified more than 1,000 athletes in various sports who had benefited from the Kremlin-sponsored coverup.

McLaren’s investigation will first focus on refereeing and judging in 2016, before examining possible past corruption involving top AIBA officials.

“Boxing has a long history of questionable activities,” said McLaren in a statement. “There have been multiple past investigations into the sport that have either not been completed or acted upon. It is time for boxing to turn the page, but it cannot do so without a full accounting of any alleged misconduct.

“Our team will conduct an independent investigation into the questions surrounding corruption or manipulation of sporting results during the Rio Olympic Games, identify the persons responsible and recommend the appropriate course of action.”

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