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An independent investigation has concluded that a system to manipulate the outcome of boxing matches by officials was in place at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Professor Richard McLaren, the head of the investigation commissioned by the sport’s world governing body AIBA, said the “seeds had been sown” years before.
McLaren, 76, revealed his findings at a virtual press conference in Lausanne today.
There are suspicions over 11 fights, those featuring defeats for Great Britain’s Joe Joyce and Ireland’s Michael Conlan, with McLaren adding that all results of these bouts are being scrutinised.
Joyce took silver in the men’s super heavyweight division, losing to France’s Tony Yoka in the final on a split decision – while bantamweight Conlan was dubiously beaten by Russian boxer Vladimir Nikitin in his quarter final.
The defeat for Joyce, 35, was already deemed one of the most controversial outcomes in Olympic boxing history, after he appeared to outbox his opponent in all three rounds only for the Frenchman to have his hand raised afterwards.
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It prompted jeers from the crowd while Conlan’s defeat, also after a split decision, was deemed every bit as farcical.
It is as yet unclear whether Joyce will be upgraded to a Gold medal should it be proved his bout was fixed.
The AIBA have said they have “concern” over the findings, with the investigation by McLaren and his team focusing on whether boxers from certain nations were given favourable verdicts by referees and judges in Rio.
France and Uzbekistan are among those under intense scrutiny, with both enjoying a stellar showing from their boxers in Rio.
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McLaren’s team were reportedly called in when an internal probe by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) found “strong suspicion” surrounding AIBA’s French former executive director Karim Bouzidi, as well as a number of officials.
Bouts from four years previously at the London 2012 Olympics are also said to be under investigation.
McLaren’s work has already had a sensational impact on the Olympic movement, after his revelations about Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme saw the country barred from competition.
And in his report, he said huge sums were involved in the fixing: “A comprehensive study of the bouts at Rio indicates approximately nine bouts that were suspicious beyond the two raised in the media at the time.
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