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Olympic boxing leadership in question after IBA reelects Russian president

Umar Kremlev was re-elected as president of the International Boxing Association.

Speaker Umar Kremlev, President, International Boxing... Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee has expressed its concerns with the International Boxing Association’s leadership elections, which saw amateur boxing’s governing boxy re-elect its Russian president on Saturday.

IBA members re-elected Umar Kremlev by acclamation two days after the only other candidate, Dutch boxing federation president Boris van der Vorst, was removed by an independent vetting panel.

Kremlev, who in the past thanked Russian president Vladimir Putin for his support, has previously been accused of governance concerns as well as a continued relationship with Russian majority state-owned energy company, Gazprom.

“The events surrounding IBA’s general assembly, in particular the elections, merit careful analysis and are just reinforcing the questions and doubts around IBA’s governance,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “The various IOC concerns, including the financial dependency on the state-owned company Gazprom, are still not resolved.”

The IOC has long expressed concerns about IBA’s management of finances, governance, and potential corruption at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics under the previous leadership of Uzbekistan’s Gafur Rakhimov, an alleged heroin trafficker who is sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. IBA was excluded from organizing boxing at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year and is left off the list of sports for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.

However, without the revenue from boxing events in Tokyo, IBA has relied on Kremlev’s Gazprom ties to help alleviate the governing body’s debts.

Kremlev also reportedly survived an attempt to force him to step aside in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Several board members proposed a motion at the board of directors meeting in March but no vote was ultimately taken.

“There has to be an alternative for the current Russian leadership,” van der Vorst said in an interview with The Guardian prior to being removed from the candidates list. “It is not good for the image of our sport to still have sponsorship contracts with Gazprom, a Russian state-owned company. In fact, it is very damaging.”