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06th Oct 2016

All boxing referees and judges from Rio 2016 sidelined by AIBA, pending investigation

Michael Conlan was one of several boxers who felt robbed

Darragh Murphy

Every referee and judge involved in Rio 2016’s boxing has been stood down pending the results of an investigation, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) has revealed.

Controversy surrounded a number of bouts at this year’s Games when several fighters felt robbed of victories by unfavourable and unexpected decisions.

Perhaps the most well known example of this came when Team Ireland’s Michael Conlan was robbed of a place in the semi-finals of Rio 2016 when a clear victory for the Belfast boxer was ripped away from him and handed to opponent, Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, in the bantamweight quarter-final.

“It stinks,” Conlan told Off The Ball after his defeat. “I believe the whole system of amateur boxing at the minute is – Olympic boxing especially – is stinking.

“I think the IOC need to have a look at boxing in the Olympics and wonder should it even be in Tokyo. If I was a young boxer watching the Olympics, I don’t think I’d want to be there.”

American light middleweight Gary Russell was eliminated via split decision in the quarter-final to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in another of the more controversial calls.

“He got robbed, this is fucked up,” father Gary Russell Sr said in the wake of the bout.

Boxing - Olympics: Day 11

A spotlight was shone on the officiating of the fights, with accusations of corruption being levelled by fans, fighters and trainers which led to a number of judges being sent home from the Games by AIBA after the decisions they delivered were deemed “not at the level expected.”

Midway through the Games, then AIBA Executive Director Karim Bouzidi was reassigned to a new role in the organisation while his post was taken up by Vice President of AIBA Executive Board Franco Falcinelli for the remainder of Rio 2016.

And in the latest chapter of the story, it’s emerged that all 36 referees and judges used at Rio 2016 have been sidelined until the end of an ongoing investigation.

Boxing - Olympics: Day 1

“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. “Initial decisions were made on-site during Rio 2016 to ensure the smooth running of the rest of the competition. The results of a specific R&J investigation, currently underway, will allow AIBA to fully assess what action needs to be taken.

“In the meantime, it has been decided that all 36 R&Js that were used at the Olympic Games will not officiate at any AIBA event until the investigation reaches its conclusion, along with further immediate measures adopted by the commissions.”