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Defiant boxing body IBA aims for progress in Olympic dispute

GENEVA (AP) – Seeking to resolve a years-long dispute with Olympic officials, the International Boxing Association (IBA) said on Monday it will update the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week and no longer has Russian energy giant Gazprom as a sponsor.

Boxing’s financial dependence on Gazprom is among governance and integrity concerns for the IOC, which cut ties with the sport’s governing body in 2019 and is planning for a second straight Summer Games without the IBA’s involvement.

The schism led USA Boxing to terminate its IBA membership last week ahead of the men’s world championships in Uzbekistan, which is also being boycotted by teams including Britain, Canada and Ireland.

The IBA and its president Umar Kremlev (AP, pic below) used the first day of competition on Monday in Tashkent to stage a 90-minute press briefing that was both conciliatory and defiant. “My mission is not to attract the IOC or to make them like me,” Kremlev said in translated comments that included a vulgar expression to suggest he had not shown deference to the Olympic body.

“Sorry for saying it in such a straightforward way,” Kremlev said. He noted that medals of “pure gold” will be awarded to champions over the next two weeks rather than gold-plated ones.

Olympic champions in Tokyo two years ago got medals plated with at least six grammes of gold over pure silver. The IOC also does not award prize money.

“Maybe they don’t like us giving prize money which is even greater than the Olympics,” said Kremlev, who has promised USD200,000 to champions. The IBA has pledged that will rise to USD1 million prizes in the coming years.

The Kremlev-led IBA has also let boxers from Russia and Belarus compete with their own flag and anthem contrary to IOC guidance.

The IOC has stressed it has “no problem” with boxing and boxers, just with its governing body. Relations deteriorated after 2017 when national boxing federations helped to oust CK Wu, a long-time IOC member, as their president.

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