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AIBA suspends all Rio boxing officials after controversy

Photo courtesy of Top Rank
Fighters Network

The fallout from accusations of corruption at the Rio Games continued on Thursday as AIBA banned all 36 of its boxing judges and referees who worked the Games until it completes an investigation into their conduct.

AIBA announced all 36 officials have been barred from working the youth world championships in Russia in November, the only significant event left for 2016. The amateur organization also recommended changes in the way judges and referees are assigned for bouts such as using a process that would choose them randomly instead of having them selected by a three-person panel. The recommendations were made at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the AIBA Referees and Judges and Technical and Rules Commissions met.

The 2016 Games were marred with puzzling decisions such as Ireland Michael Conlan’s loss to Russian Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarterfinals that prompted Conlan to give AIBA officials the finger in the ring and accuse them of taking bribes. Another outcome between eventual winner Evgeny Tishchenko of Russia and Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levitt in the heavyweight final was also widely panned as a disgrace.

In the midst of the outrage, AIBA removed an indefinite number of judges and also reassigned its executive director Karim Bouzidi. The embarrassing events came as AIBA tried to renew interest in the sport by allowing professionals to compete and removing headgear for the participants.

The current 10-point must scoring system appears to be safe. However, allowing all five ringside judges to decide the winner of a match has been recommended over the current system of using three of the five scorecards chosen by a computer. The recommendations will be assessed at the Extraordinary Congress held in December.

“While the majority of the boxing competition in Rio 2016 was received very positively… a small number of decisions under debate indicated that further reforms in the AIBA R&J (referee and judging) procedures were necessary,” AIBA said in a statement. “The results of a specific R&J investigation, currently underway, will allow AIBA to fully assess what action needs to be taken.”

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