AIBA President Rakhimov steps down amidst mounting IOC pressure

AIBA,AIBA President,Gafur Rakhimov,International Olympic Committee,IOC

AIBA president Gafur Rakhimov has resigned from his position in the world governing body for boxing amid an ongoing inquiry by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Rakhimov secured the AIBA presidency on a full-time basis back in November, having held the position on an interim basis since the departure of the disgraced Ching-Kuo Wu in 2017.

Accused of having links to organised crime by the US Treasury department, Rahimov had taken over as the AIBA chief last year despite warnings from the IOC that it would jeopardise boxing’s future at the Olympics.

In a statement published on the body’s website, Rakhimov said he had informed the AIBA Executive Committee of his intent to “step aside as Aiba president” in accordance with the organisation’s statutes and bylaws, which allow him to renounce to exercise his powers and be replaced by an interim president.

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A teleconference meeting of the AIBA Executive Committee has been called for this weekend, with the process of appointing an interim president to begin next week.

Rakhimov’s appointment in November cast further doubt on AIBA’s position within the Olympic Movement, with the IOC having demanded substantial reform of the governance of the body. Rakhimov has proved a controversial figure, with the Uzbek businessman having been accused of links to organised crime.

In his statement, Rakhimov pointed to the work being done by AIBA to restore its image, citing a partnership with the International Testing Agency as evidence of boxing’s efforts to become a clean sport.

“Having dedicated myself to the great sport of Boxing and the Olympic Movement for over 25 year, I have always put the well-being of our sport and our athletes above all else. That is especially true this last year, having spent countless days and nights working hard to ensure that our sport finally broke free of the bad past to become stronger and healthier than ever before,” Rakhimov’s statement read.

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“I am very proud of the work that AIBA has accomplished and the significant progress that was made in a number of areas, including: our improved Governance policies which now puts AIBA among the top half of all Summer IFs. Our commitment to the fight for clean sport which resulted in AIBA being among the first IFs to partner with the ITA and enabled AIBA to become fully compliant with the WADA Code. Our stable financial situation which is the result of the implementation of sound, disciplined budget practices and regained trust from many partners. And last but not least, our successful implementation of a new Refereeing and Judging system which has received praise from our Olympic partners.

“I truly believe that the work done this last year has revitalized and energized AIBA and boxing.

“However, despite these efforts, there have been many discussions these last few months about the future of Olympic boxing. A lot of that was mainly focused on politics and not sport. While I had truly hoped and believed that sport and politics could be separated, and that the good work and positive changes being infused into AIBA would be recognized, the politically based discussions have put into question the progress being made throughout the AIBA organization.

“Once again, as I have stated before on numerous occasions, I attest and confirm that the allegations against me were fabricated and based on politically motivated lies; I trust that the truth will prevail. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would never put myself above Boxing, and as President, I have a duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes.

“Therefore, given the current situation, I have informed the AIBA Executive Committee of my intent to step aside as AIBA President in accordance with the AIBA Statutes and Bylaws, which allow the President to renounce to exercise his powers and to be replaced by an Interim President. I have called an AIBA Executive Committee’s teleconference meeting over the weekend to address this matter and initiate the process of appointing an Interim President.

“I am convinced that all the good initiatives that have been implemented this last year will serve as a foundation that will continue to strengthen our sport in the future,” he concluded.

The ongoing IOC inquiry could lead to AIBA being stripped of the right to organise the boxing tournament at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The IOC has opted to freeze preparations for boxing at Tokyo 2020 but the Games’ organising committee has said it will proceed with preparation work as planned. Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said in December that a decision on boxing’s position in the Olympics is not expected until June.

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