Rio 2016 Olympics Boxing Was Fixed By AIBA Judges, McLaren Report Finds

Posted on: October 1, 2021, 05:35h. 

Last updated on: October 1, 2021, 09:27h.

Corruption was endemic in boxing at the Rio 2016 Olympics, according to a new report. It blames the International Boxing Association (amateur) (AIBA) for “corruption, bribery and the manipulation of sporting results.”

Rio Olympics AIBA, McLaren report
CK Wu, then President of AIBA, addresses the press before the Rio Olympics in in 2016. (Image: AIBA)

The report’s author, Professor Richard McLaren, describes a “culture of fear, intimidation, and obedience” among judges, who would weed out colleagues who refused to play dirty.

McLaren blew the lid off the state-sponsored Russian doping scandal. Now he says he is looking more closely into 11 bouts in Rio he suspects of being manipulated.

According to his report, judges sometimes used ringside signaling to predetermine the result of a match. McLaren said a cash-for-medals culture existed at AIBA, going back even further than Rio — to London 2012. For instance, Azerbaijan loaned the sporting body $10 million in 2010 with the expectation results would go in its favor in London, per the report.

No Evidence of Gambling Fix

There is no evidence matches were fixed for the purposes of gambling, although an endemically corrupt system of judges would be fertile ground for match-fixing syndicates.

But the findings could spell legal trouble for AIBA. It could open the door for those who regularly bet on AIBA bouts to seek legal redress, ideally through a class action suit. Meanwhile, athletes denied medals could argue they lost out on future sponsorship dollars.

After all, AIBA has a history of pursuing litigation of its own, especially against media organizations that have dared to criticize it.

In 2012, then-AIBA President CK Wu threatened to sue the BBC after it exposed the payment from Azerbaijan in a documentary made just prior to London 2012.

According to McLaren, Wu then made an executive order that the Azerbaijan’s boxers should not win any gold medals at the games to prove the broadcaster wrong. Instead, they won two bronze medals, and Azerbaijan felt it had been betrayed, according to McLaren.

Wu was banned for life from boxing in 2018 amid serious allegations of financial mismanagement. He “bears ultimate responsibility for the failures of officiating at Rio and the qualifying events,” the report concludes.

Conlan ‘Delighted’

Among the bouts McLaren is currently examining at Rio is that of Ireland’s Michael Conlan versus Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin. Conlan appeared to have beaten Nikitin comfortably. But a ruling to the contrary led to Conlan taking matters into his own hands. After making an obscene gesture to the judges, he grabbed the ringside microphone.

They’re f***ing cheats,” he yelled. “They’re known for being cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.”

Irish bookie Paddy Power opted to pay out bets on Conlan, regardless of the judges’ decision.

Conlan told the BBC today he was “delighted” that AIBA corruption had been exposed. He said it was a day he thought would never come.