IBA delivers open letter to the IOC President and Executive Board on governance concerns with the IOC monitoring process

March 27th, 2023 / General

Ahead of the upcoming International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board Meeting taking place 28 March 2023, the IBA delivered an open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach and its Executive Board members, sharing the IBA’s deep concerns regarding basic IOC governance, impartiality, and transparency principles seen during the monitoring process ahead of Paris 2024 which will mark the 120th anniversary of boxing’s participation the Olympic Games.

At the heart of the IBA’s governance concerns is the protection of personal and confidential data of its IBA Competition Officials under GDPR law. This was first brought to the IBA’s attention when it was confirmed that the Paris 2024 Boxing Unit, contacted IBA Competition Officials inviting them to act as volunteer Officials for the Paris 2024 Qualification Competition and the Boxing Tournament.

This was done without prior approval or communication to IBA, with whom the Competition Officials are certified and showed a lack of basic communication that demonstrates once again the lack of transparency and cooperation with the IBA from the respective IOC staff.

This action is in breach of the Data Transfer Agreement signed on 15/26 November 2019 between IBA and IOC, in particular, to its clause 4.1 b according to which (emphasis added) “the Transferred Personal Data [contact details] will not be kept for longer than necessary for the Agreed Purposes (boxing qualification competitions and events for Tokyo 2020 as well as the boxing Tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (collectively the “Boxing Competitions”) and will be completely and irreversibly destroyed after the fulfilment”.

Considering that the IBA has not shared any Competition Officials’ contact details with the IOC after Tokyo 2020, it is clear that either the IOC has obtained these contacts unlawfully or has breached the Agreement. With the latter being more serious considering that the IBA Head Office received numerous complaints from our Competition Officials about this unsolicited communication from the IOC.

Above all, the IBA is truly concerned about the source from which the IOC has obtained these contact details and regarding this, namely integrity, transparency, lack of continuous professional development, skill fade, and GDPR as the starting point.

It is the responsibility of the IBA’s Sport and Development officials to ensure that good governance is applied in all respects when managing IBA Technical Officials. The process that the IOC has applied does not meet the high standard of selection criterions that IBA have been striving towards in the past two years. The way the IOC process has been rolled out, completely undermines the IBA’s investment in a high-quality process for our officials, and the actions of the IOC demonstrates a lack of common decency and cooperation to communicate the IOC’s intentions via the respective appointed personnel within IBA.

The IBA therefore will reserve all rights to seek redress before the competent court against IOC to request damages for breach of the Agreement, illegitimate use of our intellectual property and breach of the GDPR amongst other breaches in which the IOC has committed.

It is clear, the IOC acted in gross negligence by sending an email to the ITOs/R&Js without asking IBA raising further concerns such as the fact that these Competition Officials (i) may not be current, (ii) may not be registered anymore with IBA and (iii) and may be classed as being “high-risk” through our integrity management processes conducted by McLaren Global Sports Solutions. These individuals who, are no longer qualified to participate in IBA competitions, are likely to sign up immediately as volunteers for these IOC-supervised events. This is not only clear negligence on the part of the IOC but also an action that jeopardises the performance of the boxers, puts their results and ultimately, their safety at risk.

As the IBA Competition Officials form part of our competitions operational system and that they are trained and certified by us, they are not allowed to by the IOC without the IBA’s prior authorisation.

The IBA who remains active in its governance reforms has asked that the relevant bodies of IOC, such as the IOC Ethics Commission, take the relevant measures to initiate an internal investigation against those individuals who breached the Agreement and leaked the contact details of our Competition Officials.

In addition, the IBA, has requested that Ms Zappelli, who as the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer should ensure that such violations do not occur, be excluded from dealing with the IBA. In the absence of Ms Zappelli the IBA has proposed that the main point of contact with the IOC be the Director General, Mr De Kepper, or another senior level independent person proposed by the IOC, who must be independent from CK Wu and/ or AIBA’ management of that period.

To date, the IBA has continued to develop its organizational integrity and have addressed and improved those areas of the past with the joint working partnership with Prof. McLaren. However, we are disappointed with the lack of communication with the IOC concerned staff. What is even more troubling is the fact that Mr Pontes (Head of Boxing Operations, IOC) and Mr Llaurado (Technical Officials Manager, IOC) are former Sport and Development employees of the AIBA and were involved during the ‘CK Wu’ period where AIBA experienced several severe integrity issues.

Needless to say, the IBA believes that this is a direct conflict of interest because the success or failure as well as the perception that the IOC had of the IBA was in direct competition with the existence of both individuals. If IBA performed well there would not be the need for another task force and the services of these two gentlemen would have not been required by the IOC anymore.

It is important to highlight that during their many visits to the IBA Head Office these individuals acknowledged the fact that the IBA was doing a good job and fixed one of the most important issues, that was the field of play. They conceded that there was no manipulation in both Istanbul and Birmingham, and that this area was now fixed, and the system put in place was effective. The IBA received no written confirmation therefore it was impossible for us to reply or address any of the reports and/or statements provided to the IOC.

On numerous occasions, the IBA had requested Ms Zappelli and the IOC Sports Mr Kit McConnell to convene a meeting, have open discussions, or to liaise with our appointed mediator – Professor McLaren, unfortunately, all of them were rejected or remain unanswered until today.

In addition, the IBA has severe concerns about the monitoring process of PwC as its appointed inspectors refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) designed to safeguard the personal data of IBA officials – in relation to the monitoring of the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships 2023 in New Delhi. The IBA has concerns as there is a precedent for certain IOC officials to use such data, rather than destroy it as agreed, following the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

It is also notable that, in the event that IBA’s IOC recognition is not reinstated, PwC would play a central role in the delivery of the boxing competition at the Paris 2024 Olympics in the absence of IBA. Why is this not deemed to be a conflict of interest and unacceptable?

The IBA is committed to being part of a fair and transparent monitoring process that will lead to boxing’s worldwide governing body being allowed to rejoin the program for the Olympic Games. The IBA believes that only then can the monitoring process uphold the good governance principles that the IOC claims to espouse.