Quite a weekend of action off the fields of play, with major developments in the ongoing saga of boxing and the Olympic Games, doping in Russia and the USA Track & Field election for a nominee for the IAAF Council:
∙ The IOC wants to hurt AIBA, but not boxers
The International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board has made its displeasure with the international federation for boxing (AIBA) clear over nearly a year and considered what to do about the federation at its Board meeting over the weekend.
The decision is to investigate AIBA thoroughly, but leave boxing alone. Huh?
The IOC has threatened to remove boxing from the program of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but instead of moving in that direction, it expressed its continued displeasure in the areas of “governance, ethics, financial management and refereeing and judging.” It has set up a committee of three IOC members: Nenad Lalovic (SRB), Richard Carrion (PUR) and athlete representative Emma Terho (FIN), a former national-team hockey player, to examine these areas and report back with recommendations.
In the meantime, AIBA continues to be on IOC “suspension,” receiving no funding or other support. The IOC noted that in its latest financial report, AIBA’s auditors stated that “Uncertainty still persists about the ability of the organisation to continue as a going concern.” Regarding governance, the expected unhappiness with AIBA’s newly-elected president was stated as “Gafur Rakhimov’s designation as a key member and associate of a transnational organised criminal network by the US Treasury Department creates uncertainty about his role as President of AIBA.”
The IOC also decided to “freeze the planning for the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020, including official contact between AIBA and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, ticket sales, approval and implementation of a qualification system, test event planning and finalisation of the competition schedule,” but then, two sub-paragraphs later, added, “The IOC Executive Board makes all efforts to protect the athletes and ensure that a boxing tournament can take place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 regardless of these measures.”
So what you have now is essentially the IOC’s version of the de-certification process that the United States Olympic Committee is going through with USA Gymnastics. There may not be a boxing federation, but there will be a 2020 Olympic boxing tournament … somehow.
∙ Is WADA being played for a fool in Russia?
The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement on 28 November, noting that a three-person delegation was in Moscow (RUS), meeting with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, the country’s sports ministry and others to arrange for a technical team to retrieve the Moscow laboratory database for transfer to WADA by the end of the year, as required in WADA’s reinstatement conditions.
The delegation leader, WADA Senior Director/Science and International Partnerships, Dr. Olivier Rabin, stated “We had open and productive meetings with the Russian public authorities, including with Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, and we are preparing for the full technical team to gain access to the Moscow Laboratory and the data before the end of 2018 in line with the strict conditions that WADA’s Executive Committee set for RUSADA’s reinstatement. Progress is being made but some points still need to be ironed out before we can proceed with the technical visit.”
Look like more ironing is needed. Britain’s Press Association reported on 29 November that “Russia has still not given permission for a team of independent experts to access the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the country’s state-sponsored doping scandal, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed.” Uh, the clock is ticking …
∙ Willie Banks elected as USA Track & Field nominee for the IAAF Council
The USA Track & Field Annual Meeting took place in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend and one of the issues being followed outside of the meeting was the selection of the USATF candidate for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Council. The incumbent, former U.S. 100 m hurdles champion and ex-USATF President Stephanie Hightower, was selected by the USATF Board in 2014 after the membership had voted by 390-72 for then-incumbent Bob Hersh.
This time, it was three-time Olympian and former world triple jump record holder, Willie Banks, 62, who challenged incumbent Hightower, now 60. This was still an open wound for many people within the organization’s membership and Hightower maintained support from several important power brokers within USATF. She was even saluted by the USATF chief executive, Max Siegel, with an early announcement that she had been selected to receive the Robert Geigengack Award, given to an outstanding contributor to the sport and the body’s highest award for volunteer service.
No matter. Banks won the vote, 391-217. He told The Times of San Diego that “delegates looked at his record of ‘helping athletes and being supportive of issues that people really cared about. That resonated with people.’”
Banks isn’t on the Council yet; he’s only the U.S. nominee. The election for Council will take place next September before the World Championships in Doha. Said Banks, “I need to run a campaign.”
Quite the weekend, and that’s only what happened off the field!