Amateur boxing has been plunged into a new crisis after the sport’s only rival to Russia’s president was banned from running on the eve of the International Boxing Association election.
Sources close to Iba told the Guardian that Dutch candidate Boris van der Vorst, who was due to challenge Umar Kremlev for Iba’s presidency, was banned for breaking his rules by being part of an 18-nation alliance that openly criticized Iba. reaction to the war in Ukraine and its reliance on Gazprom funding.
Van der Vorst is now appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after being caught off guard by the news. Five other candidates for Iba’s board, who were also part of the Common Cause Alliance lobby group opposed to the Kremlev, were also excluded from Friday’s elections in Istanbul.
The decision leaves boxing, which has been rocked by numerous legal and financial scandals in recent years, facing more questions about its Olympic future.
Boxing is currently not on the slate for the 2028 Los Angeles Games and, as The Guardian revealed on Wednesday, the IOC sent a letter to Kremlev this week saying he had “significant concerns” about the governance and financing of Iba. After this latest news, many are now openly wondering if there is a way back for the organization.
In a statement, Iba said the decision was made by the Acting Appointment Unit, an independent body set up in February to establish eligibility and analyze candidates’ skills.
The statement read: “Complaints were lodged with the Acting Appointment Unit on 11 and 13 April 2022 that the activities of these candidates were illegal under Iba regulations to the extent that they constituted participation in another international boxing organization, prohibited collaboration between candidates and the electoral campaign outside the electoral period.
“The activities in question revolved around the creation of a group called the Common Cause Alliance in which the listed candidates participated, as well as exchanges of open letters with the Iba.”
The Dutch federation, led by Van der Vorst, was among 18 national federations, including the United States, England, France, Australia and Canada, which formed the alliance earlier this year to ask the Iba to disclose the financial information involved in its agreement with Gazprom.
He then called for eight-point action to address the damage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and for the Iba to take stronger action against the Russian Boxing Federation.
In a terse response to the news, the IOC said it was “following developments in Iba very closely”.