By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – “Unprofessional relationships” within AIBA created an atmosphere of collusion between senior management and judges that undermined boxing at last year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the governing body said in a statement on Friday.
It added, however, that an investigation committee had found no evidence of active interference in the results after carrying out 50 interviews over a four-month period.
“An unwelcome axis of influence and sole decision-making had been created and used by former Senior Management that led to a lack of due process being carried out,” AIBA president Ching-kuo Wu said.
“Whilst there is no evidence that this had a direct influence on results in Rio, if best practice is not followed 100 percent of the time by our officials and R&Js (referees and judges), that is unacceptable.”
AIBA said the 36 Rio referees and judges, who were sidelined pending the investigation, would now be reintegrated on a case-by-case basis.
The tournament in August was embroiled in controversy surrounding a new ’10-point must’ scoring system, with allegations by some boxers that they had been robbed of victory.
Ireland’s world bantamweight champion Michael Conlan called AIBA “cheats” after he lost on points to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in a quarter-final.
AIBA also dropped a number of judges and referees during the competition, after finding that “less than a handful” of the decisions from 239 bouts reviewed were not at the level expected.
The organization’s French executive director Karim Bouzidi was also reassigned to a new role.
Friday’s statement spoke of a “lack of proper procedural norms” due to “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.”
It said the actions taken by AIBA post-Rio had been justified.
An automated Swiss Timing system will now assign officials to matches, with all five judges’ scorecards used to determine the winner of a bout instead of just three chosen at random by a computer.
“There is no evidence that the reallocation of medal rankings is required for Rio 2016, but AIBA will be researching the feasibility of processes for the appeal of decisions in the future,” it said in the statement.
A broad education program involving boxers, coaches, officials and fans will be set up “to instil a greater understanding of scoring and give a strong reminder of the importance of sportsmanship, respect and fair play values.
“The subjectivity of scoring is part of what makes the sport unique, and the nature of the contest means that strong opinions are formed by teams and fans, but that should not impact negatively on the integrity of the officials,” AIBA said.
(Editing by Ossian Shine and Ed Osmond)