The International Boxing Association (Aiba) has stated “unprofessional relationships” within its organisation created an atmosphere of collusion between senior management and judges at the 2016 summer Olympic Games, but has ruled out the possibility that active interference took place in the result of bouts in Rio de Janeiro.
An Aiba Special Investigation Committee (SIC) has concluded its investigation into the practices and procedures of officials during Rio 2016, where the boxing tournament was hit by controversy. In Rio, Aiba’s officials attracted widespread criticism, with several controversial results emerging, including Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan’s defeat to Russian Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals.
Aiba last month moved to introduce changes to its refereeing and judging system in the wake of the controversy. In October, Aiba suspended its officiating model and sidelined all 36 judges and referees who participated at Rio 2016.
Among the most integral rule changes to be implemented at tournaments in 2017 will be the use of the independent Swiss Timing electronic draw system to select judges for each bout and the use of all five of their scorecards to determine the winner.
Judges will now be positioned on the four sides of the ring rather than three. The scores for each round will only be declared at the conclusion of a bout rather than at the ends of the rounds, and refereeing and judging evaluators are now formally recognised as international technical official positions.
The SIC investigation commenced in September and has now concluded. Aiba said the 36 Rio referees and judges would now be reintegrated on a case-by-case basis. It added that a broad education program involving boxers, coaches, officials and fans will be established “to instil a greater understanding of scoring and give a strong reminder of the importance of sportsmanship, respect and fair play values”.
Aiba stressed there is no evidence that the reallocation of medal rankings is required for Rio 2016, but added it will be researching the feasibility of processes for the appeal of decisions in the future. Aiba president Ching-Kuo Wu said: “Aiba defends the integrity of its expert R&Js who operate in difficult, subjective circumstances, but we have shown that we are also not afraid of making difficult decisions for the good of boxing.
“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. We moved immediately to re-empower our commissions and use their expertise in order to decentralise the decision-making and re-establish our procedures.
“Whilst there is no evidence that this had a direct influence on results in Rio, if best practice is not followed 100 per cent of the time by our officials and R&Js, that is unacceptable. The SIC have conducted a thorough investigation and many of their recommendations… have already been put into place. These actions will ensure even greater consistency and transparency in our officiating as we head into the new Olympic cycle.”