The congress of the scandal-hit International Amateur Boxing Federation (AIBA) that begins in Moscow on Friday may be a turning point for the sport and its future in the Olympics.
Gafur Rakhimov, an Uzbek who has been linked to organised crime by the US Treasury Department, is one of two candidates standing for the position of AIBA president at the meeting.
Rakhimov has vigorously denied US government allegations but in October the International Olympics Committee (IOC) froze relations with AIBA and refused to accredit Rakhimov to the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
The IOC move made it clear that it was prepared to kick the AIBA out of the Olympic movement and remove boxing from the 2020 Tokyo Games if the “governance problems” in the ruling body were not resolved.
In February, the IOC said they were worried by the nomination of the Uzbek businessman for the AIBA interim presidency, a position he still occupies. The IOC has been losing patience with boxing since a judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Games when all 36 officials and referees were suspended while allegations of bout-fixing were investigated.
An internal power struggle saw the previous president, Taiwan’s CK Wu, ousted.
He was banned after a report by “forensic investigators” K2 Intelligence documented “gross negligence and financial mismanagement of AIBA affairs and finances”. The ban will need to be ratified by member federations at the AIBA Congress in Moscow.
IOC president Thomas Bach said in February that he was “extremely worried about the governance of AIBA”.
And though amateur boxing’s under-fire chiefs handed over a crucial report on internal reforms to the IOC in April, the threat of losing a place in the Olympic movement remains.
“This report shows some progress and goodwill but still lacks execution and substance in some areas,” Bach said in May.
“Therefore we retain our right to exclude boxing from Tokyo 2020.”
The other candidate for the AIBA president post is Serik Konakbayev, a Kazakh who won the Olympic silver medal at Moscow Games in 1980 for the Soviet Union.
His participation in the race was thrown into doubt this month when the AIBA election commission barred him for allegedly failing to submit certain forms by a deadline. But Konakbayev lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled (CAS) against the AIBA decision.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)