Sports court verdict puts Olympic boxing in more doubt
GENEVA (AP) — The troubled International Boxing Association may have to hold its presidential election again after the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday ruled in favor of a candidate barred from the original vote.
The court said it upheld an appeal by Netherlands boxing official Boris van der Vorst that he should not have been struck off the paper ballot last month for a minor breach of campaigning rules.
However, it did not order the IBA to re-stage the vote that re-elected its president Umar Kremlev by acclamation on May 14.
The IBA said of the verdict it will “take legal advice on its implications and will consider appropriate action” when its board meets on June 24 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Van der Vorst was the intended opponent of Kremlev until an election vetting panel ruled him ineligible one day before the scheduled vote.
The election oversight panel removed Van der Vorst and other candidates for elected IBA positions for alleged “prohibited collaboration” and campaigning.
A CAS judge decided only a rule on premature campaigning had been broken by Van der Vorst, but also by Kremlev.
The minor rules violation “would have deserved a light sanction such as a warning or even no sanction, but not an exclusion from the election,” the court said in a statement.
“We look forward to cooperating with IBA to reinstate the election process as soon as possible,” Van der Vorst said in a joint statement with three allies whose appeals were also upheld by CAS.
The election uncertainty has fueled skepticism at the International Olympic Committee about IBA’s push for reinstatement as the recognized organizer of boxing ahead of the 2024 Paris Summer Games.
Boxing’s governing body was stripped of IOC recognition ahead of last year’s Tokyo Games and the sport has been left off the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
The IOC has long criticized the boxing body for its governance, finances and integrity of bouts at championships, including at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Six years ago, Olympic boxing and the governing body were run by C.K. Wu, then a longtime IOC member.
Wu was succeeded by Gafur Rakhimov, who was elected despite IOC warnings about his reputation. Rakhimov was on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for alleged links to international heroin trafficking, which he denied.
Kremlev was elected in 2020 and has won support in IBA for clearing millions of dollars of debts, though the IOC has voiced further concerns about financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom as a sponsor.
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