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Conlan loss among 11 fights suspected of being fixed at 2016 Olympics, report finds

Erik G

AS MANY AS 11 boxing matches at the 2016 Rio Olympics were likely corrupted by officials involved in manipulating bouts for money, according to a report by an independent investigation released today. 

“A system for the manipulation of bouts by officials existed at Rio,” said a report by a team led by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

“The seeds of this were sown years before starting from at least the Olympic Games of the 21st century through the events around 2011 and London 2012.”

Among the fights in question is Michael Conlan’s controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin of Russia in the quarter-final of the bantamweight division. 

Belfast boxer Conlan — going for his second Olympic medal — was outspoken about the result at the time, and he tweeted the AIBA today to say: 

“Lads, I want my medal. Get it sorted and I’ll DM you my address. Thanks, MC.”

The report added that investigators had not been able to ascertain the exact number of tarnished fights, although it could be as high as 11.

AIBA has had a long history of match manipulation and corruption,” the report said.

Ching-Kuo Wu, then-president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), and then-executive director Karim Bouzidi had been complicit in allowing the corruption to happen, it added.

The report pointed fingers at neither boxers nor their entourages, instead unveiling a vast network of “bout manipulation” involving “compliant and complicit” referees and judges acting under “a culture of fear, intimidation and obedience” created by AIBA.

Taiwan’s Wu and Frenchman Bouzidi were, McLaren said, “key actors in organising the field of play to allow the manipulation to flourish”.

In response to the McLaren report, AIBA said it had “noted the findings regarding the Rio 2016 boxing tournament with concern and confirmed that extensive reforms have been implemented to ensure sporting integrity at current AIBA competitions”.

“AIBA hired Professor McLaren because we have nothing to hide,” said AIBA President Umar Kremlev.

We will work to incorporate any helpful recommendations that are made.

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“We will also take legal advice with regard to what action is possible against those found to have participated in any manipulation.

“There should be no place in the AIBA family for anyone who has fixed a fight.”

© – AFP, 2021 with reporting from Ben Blake

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