Amateur boxing has been plunged into a fresh crisis after the sole rival to the sport’s Russian president was barred from standing on the eve of the International Boxing Association’s election.
Sources close to Iba have told the Guardian that the Dutch candidate Boris van der Vorst, who had been due to challenge Umar Kremlev for the Iba presidency, was barred for breaching their regulations by being part of an alliance of 18 countries that had openly criticised Iba’s reaction to the war in Ukraine and its reliance on Gazprom funding.
Van Der Vorst is now appealing to the court of arbitration for sport after being blindsided by the news. Five other candidates for Iba’s executive board, who were also on the Common Cause Alliance pressure group opposed to Kremlev, have also been barred from Friday’s elections in Istanbul.
The decision leaves boxing, which has been rocked by numerous judging and financial scandals in recent years, facing more questions about its Olympic future.
Boxing is currently not on the roster for the LA Games in 2028 and, as revealed by the Guardian on Wednesday, the IOC sent a letter to Kremlev earlier this week saying it had “significant concerns” about the governance and financing of Iba. After this latest news, many are now openly questioning whether there is any way back for the organisation.
In a statement, Iba said that the decision had been taken by the Interim Nomination Unit, an independent body created in February to establish the eligibility and analyse the skillsets of nominees.
The statement said: “Complaints were made to the Interim Nomination Unit on 11 and 13 April 2022 that the activities of these candidates were improper under the IBA regulations insofar as they constituted participation in another international boxing organisation, prohibited collaboration between candidates and electoral campaigning outside the Electoral period.
“The activities in question were based around the creation of a group called the Common Cause Alliance in which the candidates listed participated, together with exchanges of open letters with the Iba.”
The Dutch federation, led by Van der Vorst, was among 18 national federations, including the US, England, France, Australia and Canada, that formed the alliance earlier this year to ask the Iba to disclose financial information involved in its agreement with Gazprom.
It later called for an eight-point action designed to address the damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and for the Iba to take stronger action against the Russian Boxing Federation.
In a terse response to the news, the IOC said it was “monitoring the developments in Iba very closely”.