Gafur Rakhimov has today (Friday) signalled his intention to step aside as president of the International Boxing Association (Aiba) amid an ongoing inquiry into the governing body by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Rakhimov secured the Aiba presidency on a full-time basis back in November, having held the position on an interim basis since the departure of the disgraced Ching-Kuo Wu in 2017.
In a statement published on the body’s website today, Rakhimov said he had informed the Aiba Executive Committee of his intent to “step aside as Aiba president” in accordance with the organisation’s statutes and bylaws, which allow him to renounce to exercise his powers and be replaced by an interim president.
A teleconference meeting of the Aiba Executive Committee has been called for this weekend, with the process of appointing an interim president to begin next week.
Rakhimov’s appointment in November cast further doubt on Aiba’s position within the Olympic Movement, with the IOC having demanded substantial reform of the governance of the body. Rakhimov has proved a controversial figure, with the Uzbek businessman having been accused of links to organised crime.
In his statement, Rakhimov pointed to the work being done by Aiba to restore its image, citing a partnership with the International Testing Agency as evidence of boxing’s efforts to become a clean sport.
Rakhimov added: “However, despite these efforts, there have been many discussions these last few months about the future of Olympic boxing. A lot of that was mainly focused on politics and not sport. While I had truly hoped and believed that sport and politics could be separated, and that the good work and positive changes being infused into Aiba would be recognised, the politically based discussions have put into question the progress being made throughout the Aiba organisation.
“Once again, as I have stated before on numerous occasions, I attest and confirm that the allegations against me were fabricated and based on politically motivated lies; I trust that the truth will prevail. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would never put myself above boxing, and as president, I have a duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes.”
The ongoing IOC inquiry could lead to Aiba being stripped of the right to organise the boxing tournament at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The IOC has opted to freeze preparations for boxing at Tokyo 2020 but the Games’ organising committee has said it will proceed with preparation work as planned. Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said in December that a decision on boxing’s position in the Olympics is not expected until June.