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Rakhimov resigns as president of troubled Aiba

Gafur Rakhimov, whose controversial tenure as president of the International Boxing Association (Aiba) was one of the reasons behind the International Olympic Committee (IOC) taking action against the body, has resigned from his position stating he needs to focus on clearing his name against the “false accusations” levelled against him.

The Uzbekistani was appointed interim president of Aiba in January 2018, before being officially elected as leader 10 months later. Rakhimov’s election came despite his name being on a US Treasury Department sanctions list for alleged links to international heroin trafficking. The sanctions prevent US citizens and companies from conducting business with him. He has continually denied wrongdoing and is attempting to have the sanctions lifted.

In a statement published on Aiba’s website today (Monday), Rakhimov said: “This most difficult transitional period in the history of Aiba coincides, unfortunately, with a period of my growing involvement in the processes aimed at protecting my honour and dignity against politically motivated and false accusations originating from the past.

“These processes now require me to be constantly present in legal and other proceedings in order to speed up the clearing of my name from these false accusations. Having been part of the boxing family and the Olympic Movement for over 25 years, I have a sense of duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes, who are an absolute priority for me.

“Therefore, while it is with a heavy heart, I have decided to resign effective immediately as Aiba president.”

Rakhimov had stepped aside from the presidency in March, but had continued to formally hold office as a new interim president, Mohamed Moustahsane, took over the running of Aiba. The world governing body last month removed a bylaw which could have permitted Rakhimov to lift his self-suspension and resume control of the organisation.

Aiba had been due to elect a new president in November and the IOC last month confirmed sanctions against it as the clock counts down to the boxing competitions at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The IOC officially stripped Aiba of its Olympic status, confirming that a boxing tournament will go ahead next year without the involvement of the sport’s Olympic federation.

The stripping of Aiba’s Olympic status followed months of wrangling between the IOC and Aiba over a number of issues, dating back to the suspension of all 36 of boxing’s officials and referees after a judging scandal at Rio 2016. In May, a report from an IOC Inquiry Committee stated that “serious governance issues remain…leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders”.

The officials who sat on that Inquiry Committee have formed a Monitoring Committee, which will continue to analyse Aiba’s development and progress with a view to potential reinstatement after Tokyo 2020.