PtG Article 23.02.2007

Boxing reforms off to rocky start with suspension of outspoken critic

Efforts to reform the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to make it less corrupt and more democratic have had a rocky start. First AIBA suspended a critical vice president on suspicions that he had committed acts of terrorism but in all likelihood it is a case of mistaken identity. Later AIBA suspended its secretary general for embezzlement - without making it public.

When C.K. Wu took over as AIBA president from the Pakistani Anwar Chowdhry, he woved to clean up AIBA and set up a reform committee headed by the Norwegian IOC member, Gerhard Heiberg. He also asked PriceWaterhouseCoopers to make an audit of all AIBA finances and it is on the basis of their report that secretary general Caner Doganeli has been suspended.

According to Around the Rings, a newsletter on Olympic affairs, the audit report suggests that Doganeli has embezzled the federation in excess of 100,000 dollars. The report was presented at a meeting of the Executive Committee on 9 February where Doganeli was present. Three days later the AIBA Ethics Committee recommended that he should be suspended.

None of this information can be found on AIBA’s own website. But according to Around the Rings, the audit report also warns of an impending scandal as hundreds of thousands of dollars appear to have been improperly paid to former AIBA president Anwar Chowdhry. In addition to which a former AIBA official is suspected of having run up tens of thousands of euros in gambling debts on a federation credit card.

Khusainov suspended to investigate suspicions of terrorist leanings So on the financial front president Wu has his hands full. But the federation may have created another problem for itself when the Executive Committee at its recent meeting in Taipei decided to suspend its vice president Eduard Khusainov who is one of Wu’s most outspoken critics.

Khusainov is president of the Boxing Federation of Russia (RBF) and also president of the European Amateur Boxing Association (EABA).  His suspension is related to allegations that he is affiliated to an extremist Islamic group and has been convicted of terrorist acts.

After a presentation of these allegations, the Executive Committee immediately decided to temporarily suspend Khusainov pending further investigations.

But according to EABA and the Boxing Federation of Russia no further investigation is necessary.  The two organisations say that boxing’s Eduard R. Khusainov has been mistaken for a namesake, Eduard K. Khusainov who was convicted of membership of Hitz-Hizb-ut-Takhrir and given a suspended sentence at a court in Nizhnevartovsk.

On its website, EABA has posted copies of letters from the Russian Olympic Committee,  the Moscow city government, the European Union of Boxing Veterans and the court in Nizhnevartovsk  that all testify that Eduard R. Khusainov has never been convicted of any criminal acts.

The letter from the deputy chairman of the Nizhnevartovsk city court,  A. Zolatavi, states that the court has convicted Eduard K. Khusainov born on 26 January 1972. And ”there is no criminal case against Khusainov Eduard Rishatovich,  born in 1960, in the Nizhnevartovsk city court.”

Russian boxing federation says attack is deliberate

The Boxing Federation of Russia is convinced that the attack on Khusainov is deliberate and not a mistake. In an open letter to all sport leaders and national boxing federations, the vice president, the state coach and the executive director of the boxing federation write that they believe events in Taipei took place because Khusainov told the truth about the working methods of the new leadership.

”Times of democracy and Olympics in AIBA ended without beginning.  Having voted for new AIBA leadership amateur boxing chose the regime of dictatorship and intolerance. We think it is a well-prepared action of frightening everyone who will dare to object to lawlessness in AIBA,” the letter reads.

In an interview with the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung, president Wu says that the decision to suspend Khusainov had nothing to do with criticisms raised by the Russian vice president.

"There was information in the public domain that Khusainov was involved in terrorist activities and that he had also been sentenced to a suspended jail sentence. We asked him for a statement. We questioned him for half an hour. He did not answer. We then decided unanimously to suspend him and refer the case to the Ethics Commission," Wu explains in the Berliner Zeitung.

The Russian Boxing Federation on the other hand maintains in its open letter that Khusainov was not given an opportunity to speak at the meeting of the executive committee - not even after president Wu was presented with all the documents that are now posted on the website of the European Amateur Boxing Association.

What is right and who is wrong in this mess remains to be seen but the reform committeee certainly has its work cut out.