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Boxing chiefs blast ‘persecution’ in Olympics future row

Boxing chiefs claimed on Friday they are victims of “persecution” and “extortion” as their sport faces being axed from the Olympic programme.

Olympic bosses upheld a ban on the International Boxing Association (IBA) earlier this month, insisting that the “drastic change of culture” requested in order to lift a suspension had not been implemented.

The IBA was suspended by the International Olympic Committee in 2019 for multiple corruption scandals, meaning boxing risks disappearing as an Olympic sport from the Paris Games in 2024.

Boxing only went ahead in the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics after the IOC stepped in to ensure the qualification criteria.

However, the IBA, whose president is Umar Kremlev of Russia, blasted their critics on Friday.

“The Olympic Games are a global sporting asset that cannot be a tool of extortion of the International Sports Federations for purely political reasons,” the IBA said in a statement.

The IBA has also come under fire for its governance, financial transparency and sustainability. Their major backer has been Russian energy giant Gazprom in a deal worth a reported $50 million.

“It is clear that the persecution of IBA athletes will continue until ultimate control of boxing and its leadership has been achieved,” added the IBA statement.

“The discrimination against you (the athletes) and IBA’s leadership and partners based on citizenship, directly contradicts the Olympic Charter, and only highlights the issue of athletes and sport being manipulated for geopolitical purposes.”

It added: “With that said, with the threat of boxing being removed from the Paris 2024 programme, the IBA will continue to reach out to the senior leadership of the IOC to work towards a de-escalation of this current development and with a view to LA 2028.”

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