Dear USA Boxing Members:
The International Boxing Association’s (IBA) Women’s World Championships are scheduled for March 2023 (New Delhi, India) and will be followed by the Men’s World Championships slated for May 2023 (Tashkent, Uzbekistan). USA Boxing continues to prepare its high-performance team to compete at the highest level in preparation for imminent Olympic Qualification, however, the ongoing failures of IBA and respect for the Olympic Charter must be considered when facing the decision of whether to participate in IBA events.
Since the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) suspension of IBA’s recognition in 2019, many National Federations, including USA Boxing, have expressed growing concern with IBA’s inability to implement the necessary changes required by the Lalovic Report for readmission into the Olympic Movement. IBA leaders have failed to follow the recommendations of their own experts which provided a clear pathway for athlete inclusion, fair play, proper governance, financial transparency, and responsibility. These ongoing failures forced the IOC to step in and oversee both the prior Olympic boxing program in Tokyo 2020 and the scheduled Olympic boxing program in Paris 2024. As USA Boxing has previously mentioned, IBA has failed to follow its stated Mission (to promote , support and govern the sport of boxing worldwide in accordance with the requirements and spirit of the Olympic Charter), has disregarded its own Constitution and published processes, has openly defied the ruling of the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS), and has continuously failed to prioritize the needs of boxers.
The following factors contributed to USA Boxing’s conclusion that any participation in the IBA World Championships would violate not only IOC sanctions reaffirmed as recently as February 2, but also the principles of fair play, integrity, and transparency:
- Field of Play
- Failure to consistently require or implement independent oversight of the FOP, which was previously and successfully used in Tokyo and the 2021 IBA Men’s World Championships with the involvement of PwC but was not used at the 2022 IBA Women’s World Championships or Youth World Championships
- While minutes from the June 2022 IBA Board of Directors’ Meeting confirmed that a MIIT Report on the investigation of EUBC Championships in Armenia, where National Federations protested against R&Js decisions (and as a result, EUBC excluded some R&Js) would be delivered by August 31, such a report has yet to be delivered to all Directors. This reinforces a lack of faith in IBA’s transparency and oversight of field of play.
- No public announcements identifying any action or sanctions towards those identified in the IBA-commissioned McLaren reports (aside from prior IBA President Ching-Kuo Wu), including those who are still actively involved in officiating and officials’ management.
- At the 2022 IBA Youth Championships, IBA failed to adhere to its own Published Technical Officials’ Selection Process, which required that the selection of R&J’s exhibit a continental and NF balance. These selection processes also required that “Seven (7) R&Js will be selected from each continent to allow confederate parity (where possible), particularly with the use of two rings.” A disproportionate amount of European R&J’s were selected, as fewer than 7 R&Js were selected from both AMBC and ASBC. Not a single R&J from USA was selected.
- President Kremlev was denied a waiver for entry into the United States in 2021 by the US Customers and Border Protection, while others from his delegation were approved.
- Governance Reform Group (GRG) and Professor Ulrich Haas saw their contract expire without full implementation of their recommendations.
- IBA has contradicted Haas’s recommendations by terminating key positions at administrative offices in Lausanne and increasing role of the IBA Presidential office in Moscow.
- According to IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnell, there is “no operating boxing independent integrity unit” and “no comprehensive background checks” on the candidates for elections.
- The appointment of Vice President Abdulmatalim Abakarov raises additional concerns about lack of transparency from IBA leadership and falls outside best governance practices.
- Failure to hold a fair and transparent Presidential election in 2022, despite CAS ruling.
- Failure to address the drastic change of culture requested by the IOC in order to lift suspension of IBA’s recognition.
- At the December 2022 IBA Congress in Dubai, IBA President Umar Kremlev said, “I want to stress that not a single boxer, coach or National Federation will be participating in the Olympic Games without IBA” despite IBA’s suspension of Olympic recognition. The IOC responded with a December 2022 statement that “The recent IBA Congress has shown once more that IBA has no real interest in the sport of boxing and the boxers, but is only interested in its own power. The decisions and discussions to keep boxers away from the Olympic qualifiers and Olympic Games cannot be understood differently.”
- Financial irregularities and transparency
- Despite repeated concerns expressed by the IOC and promises by IBA leadership to diversify its revenue sources, IBA continues to remain financially dependent on the Russian state-owned energy company, Gazprom (and/or Gazprom subsidiaries such as Gazprombank and Gazprom Neft), which has been sanctioned by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, and others.
- IBA’s highly publicized ‘prize money’ is not considered in the approved IBAbudget and does not have a transparent origin. Prize money for gold medalists at the upcoming Women’s World Championships is 50% ($100,000) of the published Men’s World Championship gold medal prize money ($200,000), demonstrating a lack of equality.
- The IBA Audit and Finance Committees submitted their resignation immediately before the eve of the 2022 IBA Ordinary Congress in UAE.
- As of February 3, 2023, there is no publicly available Report of the Statutory/Independent Auditor for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, raising concerns about transparency of financial information.
- IOC reaffirmed sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments as recently as February 2, 2023. Such sanctions include:
- No flag, anthem, colours, or any identifications of these countries being displayed at any sports event or meeting
- Russian athletes have competed under their own flag at IBA’s Golden Belt Series event in Marrakech, Morocco in 2023, and Russian and Belarusian athletes are expected to compete at IBA World Championships under their own flag
- While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023. Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.
Based on IBA’s failure to meet the requirements of the Lalovic Report, failure to provide neutral third-party oversight, false and exaggerated statements from IBA leadership, opaque financial management and dependence on sanctioned companies, and allowing participation of athletes under sanctioned flags, anthems and colors, USA Boxing will not participate in the IBA’s 2023 Women’s and Men’s World Championships.
USA Boxing High Performance staff will continue to schedule international competition and prepare our boxers for the IOC Olympic Qualification Tournament at the 2023 Pan American Games, and will continue to collaborate with other like-minded National Federations for competition and training camp opportunities. USA Boxing will continue to provide updates to our members as more information becomes available.
In your corner,
Click here for PDF version of letter.