An independent investigation has concluded that a system to manipulate the outcome of boxing matches by officials was in place at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Professor Richard McLaren, the head of the investigation commissioned by the sport’s world governing body AIBA, said the “seeds had been sown” years before.
McLaren, 76, revealed his findings at a virtual press conference in Lausanne today.
There are suspicions over 11 fights, those featuring defeats for Great Britain’s Joe Joyce and Ireland’s Michael Conlan, with McLaren adding that all results of these bouts are being scrutinised.
Joyce took silver in the men’s super heavyweight division, losing to France’s Tony Yoka in the final on a split decision – while bantamweight Conlan was dubiously beaten by Russian boxer Vladimir Nikitin in his quarter final.
The defeat for Joyce, 35, was already deemed one of the most controversial outcomes in Olympic boxing history, after he appeared to outbox his opponent in all three rounds only for the Frenchman to have his hand raised afterwards.
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McLaren’s team were reportedly called in when an internal probe by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) found “strong suspicion” surrounding AIBA’s French former executive director Karim Bouzidi, as well as a number of officials.
Bouts from four years previously at the London 2012 Olympics are also said to be under investigation.
McLaren’s work has already had a sensational impact on the Olympic movement, after his revelations about Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme saw the country barred from competition.
And in his report, he said huge sums were involved in the fixing: “A comprehensive study of the bouts at Rio indicates approximately nine bouts that were suspicious beyond the two raised in the media at the time.
“It may be necessary to further examine those bouts for which no definitive conclusion can be made at this time. The problem with completing that analysis is due to the delayed receipt of five score bout sheets. Therefore, there may also be other bouts which are suspicious.
“The investigation to date has concluded that such manipulation involved significant six figure sums on occasion. The evidence the MIIT found is thought to be the tip of the iceberg.
“A system for the manipulation of bouts by officials existed at Rio. The seeds of this were sown years before starting from at least the Olympic Games of the twenty-first century through the events around 2011 and London 2012.”