Aiba tackles breakaway threat

The International Boxing Association (Aiba) has formed a taskforce to investigate what it claims is a “rogue group” of Kazakh officials that is seeking to form a breakaway organisation for the sport.

The announcement came during a two-day Aiba Executive Committee meeting which concluded in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday. Aiba is currently fighting for its future and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in November decided to suspend preparations for boxing at the 2020 summer Olympic Games as it commenced a procedure which could lead it to withdrawing recognition of Aiba.

Aiba has published a letter it claims has been issued by the Kazakh group seeking to “mislead” national federations and “sabotage” Aiba’s position within the Olympic Movement.  The taskforce is commissioned with uncovering the parties involved in these activities and providing recommendations for disciplinary action.

Aiba said: “Several of Aiba’s national federations have been contacted by the Kazakhstanis with the proposal to sign a letter addressed to the IOC. These federations have openly rejected the validity of this proposal and encouraged unity within Aiba.

“Concerns raised within the Aiba Executive Committee by these actions include intentional destruction of Olympic relations, lack of respect for the democratic election process from last year’s presidential election and the attempted prolongation of suffering on national federations due to the actions of these individuals who are putting their own personal interests above the sport of boxing.”

The letter is addressed to the IOC sports director, Kit McConnell. Aiba added: “Aiba assumes that the IOC has dismissed and distanced itself from any and all of these activities initiated by this group of individuals.”

The unsigned letter said “our group is ready to provide with the necessary technical expertise and sufficient financial conditions” to run tournaments for Tokyo 2020, citing “the dire situation of the sport of boxing.”

A person close to Kazakh boxing officials, speaking anonymously because they weren’t authorised to discuss the letter, told the Associated Press news agency that the copy published by Aiba was genuine. A leading figure at a national federation, speaking anonymously because of possible retribution from Aiba leadership, said they had been approached to sign the letter but had chosen not to do so. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the organisation is unaware of any breakaway plans.

The ExCo meeting saw Aiba announce it has commenced planning for Tokyo 2020 qualifying events, subject to progress being made in talks with the IOC. Aiba vice-president, Franco Falcinelli, said: “Is it really in the best interest of our athletes or the so-called protection for our boxers and our sport to wait until the end of June for them to know their participation to the Olympic Games? Why put boxing’s presence in the Olympic Games in strong doubt for so long?”

Aiba said it has also been approached by new sponsors keen to invest in the organisation and the sport. It added: “With presentations made by a number of new potential sponsors, the Aiba Executive Board is now reflecting on how these potential partnerships can be integrated into a sustainable effort which will benefit national federations in years to come.”