Following meetings held in Belgrade during the AIBA Boxing World Championships, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has announced a range of reforms which, taken together, represent very significant progress for the sport’s governance. The proposals, including the creation of an independent Boxing Integrity Unit, were based on priority recommendations developed by a group of independent experts chaired by Professor Ulrich Haas (SUI).
“For too long, AIBA was on the back foot for issues of governance and sporting integrity. I am very proud of the way this has changed, with our new culture of reform ensuring real progress towards best practice in governance and the delivery of fair fights,” said AIBA President Umar Kremlev. “Being surrounded by the world’s best boxers here in Belgrade, it is only right for our sport’s leadership to do its best. AIBA has acknowledged the problems of the past. We have brought in independent experts to help guide us and now we must boldly embrace the future.”
Specific decisions have included in-principal approval of an independent Boxing Integrity Unit that will be empowered to address competition manipulation, abuse, harassment, eligibility check of candidates and other issues. Plans for the Unit will now go forward and it is expected to become ready for operations in time for final approval at the AIBA Elective Congress, expected in Q2 of 2022.
Proposals for the composition and size of the AIBA Board of Directors to change significantly will be submitted to the AIBA Congress on 12 December, in order to take effect at next year’s election. Enhanced eligibility checks for candidates will also be implemented. Further recommendations are expected to be considered by the AIBA Board of Directors when the independent Governance Reform Group submits its final report in the course of November.
“The list of top priorities mirrors the most urgent measures that are going to be recommended in our final report. The report is in the process of being finalized and its goal is to significantly improve AIBA’s governance. The list of top priorities and the final report are based on widely-accepted benchmarks for the highest levels of integrity and good governance, including those of ASOIF and IPACS,” said Governance Reform Group Chair Prof. Ulrich Haas. “While the effective practical implementation of our recommendations must be carefully monitored with independent credibility, a decision by AIBA to adopt the measures proposed by our group can certainly serve as a basis for real and positive change.”
Officials at the AIBA World Boxing Championships, including referees and judges have been vetted by Professor Richard McLaren and his MGSS team, combining background checks and innovative technology. AIBA also cooperated with PwC, which was appointed to provide an independent evaluation of the systems and processes used to select, appoint, train, test and assign officials.
“We’re proud of the work we are doing to ensure boxers and others can be confident in AIBA’s ability to deliver fair fights and good governance. And we understand that this confidence may require continued evaluation by independent experts who are widely trusted. AIBA welcomes these kind of assessments and audits. We will continue to support independent observance and evaluations as we adopt and implement further reforms, and I encourage anyone who has any information that might help us ensure fair fights to come forward and report it to Professor McLaren and his team,” said President Kremlev.