AIBA agrees to support fast-tracking of CAS case over Konakbayev's election bid
AIBA, the international governing body for boxing in the Olympics, today agreed to support the fast-tracking of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Kazakhstan’s Serik Konakbayev, a vice-president of AIBA, over his exclusion from becoming a candidate for the presidency of AIBA at elections on 2 and 3 November.
With boxing at risk of losing its place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games over the elections and other governance issues, the move represents an apparent attempt by AIBA to appease the International Olympic Committee.
Earlier this month, AIBA defied the IOC by approving interim president Gafur Rakhimov as the sole candidate for the top post at its elections, having rejected Konakbayev’s candidacy, apparently on the basis that he did not collect the required 20 letters of support for his candidacy by the required deadline, a claim denied by official.
However, in a statement issued today that did not mention Konakbayev by name, AIBA appeared to be prepared to back down from its stance, saying: “Following discussions with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the AIBA Executive Committee has agreed to support fast-tracking a hearing to clarify the deadline for candidate application and nomination forms in regards to the upcoming election.
“According to the election procedure, all candidate application and nomination forms must have been received at the AIBA headquarters by midnight on September 23, 2018. However, questions have been raised with regards the deadline date being on a weekend.”
In his appeal, Konakbayev requested provisional measures that will ensure that his name is added to the list of candidates while the appeal is being heard.
The IOC had previously warned AIBA that it would be “in the best interests of the sport” if “candidates benefitting from a clean situation” stand for election.
Rakhimov, who is listed by the US Department of the Treasury as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals,” and has been accused by the US authorities of being “an important person involved in the heroin trade,” has denied the allegations against him, and said he would submit a petition demanding the removal of his name from the US blacklist.
In today’s statement, Rakhimov sought to portray himself as a victim of “bizarre” AIBA election rules that were the work of the previous, discredited administration, saying: “Good governance and transparency are sound pillars in the new AIBA, which is why the AIBA Executive Committee immediately gave the order to support CAS in fast-tracking a hearing to clarify questions regarding the election process.
“I have said several times over the last weeks, the election procedure and rules currently in place are overly complicated and need to be changed. They were put there by the previous administration and previous executive director, unfortunately we must follow them as they are part of our statutes.
“However, while they are bizarre, they should not hinder or hurt the democratic process of our organisation. If we can do anything to clarify the situation then we must do so, the more candidates we have vying for all positions the better.”
Earlier this month, the IOC issued a statement warning that “if the governance issues are not properly addressed to the satisfaction of the IOC at the forthcoming AIBA Congress, the existence of boxing on the Olympic programme and even the recognition of AIBA as an International Federation recognised by the IOC are under threat.”
However, the IOC added that it would nevertheless “do its utmost to ensure that the athletes do not have to suffer under these circumstances and that we will protect their Olympic dream.”
Among the governance problems cited by the IOC were “the circumstances of the establishment of the election list and the misleading communication within the AIBA membership regarding the IOC’s position.” The IOC added: “Such behaviour is affecting not just the reputation of AIBA and boxing but of sport in general.”
Earlier this year, the IOC threatened to exclude boxing from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in an escalating row over the governance of the sport, citing “issues surrounding - to say diplomatically – the new interim president of AIBA.”
Rakhimov was chosen in January at an extraordinary congress to replace Franco Falcinelli in the role of interim president until November’s elections. The move followed the resignation of former long-standing president Ching-Kuo Wu after the AIBA executive committee in November last year unanimously backed, by a margin of 14-0, a suspension imposed pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings over several serious charges, including financial mismanagement.