IBA too slow with reforms, too dependent on Russian Gazprom, says CIO

BERLIN: The International Boxing Association’s (IBA) financial dependence on Russian energy company Gazprom and the slow pace of reform are a serious concern for the International Olympic Committee as the sport struggles to retain its Olympic spot .

The IOC stripped the IBA of qualifying tournaments and competitions at the 2024 Paris Olympics after also stripping the boxing body in 2019 of its participation in the Tokyo Olympics last year due to governance issues. , financing, arbitration and ethics.

The IBA had to overhaul the refereeing after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and a fight manipulation system that existed there. Boxing was not included in the initial program of the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

“Financially, according to the information we have in the report we received last night, the IBA does not yet have any new sources of income,” IOC sporting director Kit McConnell said on Thursday during of a press conference.

“Reliance on the Russian company Gazprom continues. It has only been exacerbated, aggravated by the fact that a number of bank accounts (used by the IBA) are subject to sanctions in the current environment.

“There has been no mitigation of this reliance on one organization,” he said.

The Russian energy company is the biggest sponsor of the IBA, formerly known as AIBA.

European governments have accused Moscow of using the energy as blackmail, in retaliation for Western support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Russian gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM blamed the cuts on Western sanctions and technical issues.

IBA President Umar Kremlev, a Russian businessman, was re-elected unopposed following the disqualification of his only opponent, Boris van der Vorst, two days before the vote in Istanbul on May 14.

Van der Vorst, however, has since been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, adding to the governance turmoil within the body.

The IOC said that apart from ongoing governance issues, more and more powers were being transferred to the office of the IBA President, now located in Moscow, instead of strengthening the sport’s headquarters in Lausanne.

McConnell said the IBA headquarters had been “stripped” of senior officials and advisers.

He warned the body that he risked missing out on the Games altogether if there was no rapid progress on the reform plan agreed last year.

“Boxing is not currently included in the sports program for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028,” the IOC said in a letter sent to the IBA President on Thursday.

“Given the lack of real progress, the IOC Executive Board is unable to reverse this decision and will continue to monitor the governance of IBA with serious concern.”

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