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IBA suspends Ukraine ahead of key leadership vote

:Amateur boxing's Russian-led world governing body suspended the Ukrainian federation on Friday ahead of a leadership vote with big implications for the sport's Olympic future beyond 2024.

The International Boxing Association (IBA) president is Russian Umar Kremlev but national federations are scheduled to vote at an extraordinary congress in Armenia on Sunday on whether a new election should be held.

Ukraine will now be unable to cast a vote.

"The Ukrainian Boxing Federation was temporarily suspended, due to the interference of the government in the work of the national federation," IBA said on its website ()

"The suspension will be revoked if the conditions are met - the autonomy of the federation and recognition by Ukrainian authorities of the election that took place on 17 December 2021."

The Ukrainian Boxing Federation wrote to IBA members on Thursday calling for Kremlev to resign or be voted out of office.

The IBA does not recognise Kyrylo Shevchenko as president of the Ukrainian federation but instead considers Volodymyr Prodyvus, an ally of Kremlev who left Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February and is now an IBA vice-president, as head.

Kremlev, who this month opened a boxing facility in Moscow with Russian president Vladimir Putin, was elected unopposed in Istanbul in May after Dutch rival Boris van der Vorst was declared ineligible.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled last June that van der Vorst was wrongly prevented from standing.

Sunday's agenda includes a vote on whether to hold a new election, with Kremlev then standing against van der Vorst if it happens.

"It will be the end of IBA if we do not have an election, considering CAS ruled that we were all wrongfully removed and Boris was wrongfully removed," USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee told Reuters by telephone from Yerevan.

"It is my belief that if there is not an election, IBA will be permanently suspended or just removed by the IOC (International Olympic Committee)."


McAtee, who is an ally of van der Vorst and was also declared ineligible in May when he stood for the IBA board, said boxing would be excluded from the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics without a change at the helm.

"The IOC, if you look at their letters, are very clear that if candidate Kremlev wins, IBA will be removed," he said.

"Without being in the Olympics it will cut funding for every national federation and impact boxing all the way down to eight year old boxers in every country in the world. That’s how important it is to our sport."

Boxing is not on the initial programme for 2028 and the IOC is managing the Paris 2024 competition.

IBA, formerly known as AIBA, was stripped of involvement in last year's Tokyo Olympics due to governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell said this month that slow-moving reforms and IBA's financial dependence on Russian energy firm Gazprom were of grave concern.

Amid allegations of dirty tricks, USA Boxing filed a whistleblower complaint on Sept. 8 regarding a perceived attempt by an IBA employee to influence Sunday's vote in Kremlev's favour.

IBA said Kremlev had been cleared of all charges by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit.

McAtee said a legal challenge could not be ruled out if Kremlev remained in office.

"There are several points that can be contested in court and we are keeping all our options open," he said.

Source: Reuters


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