AIBA suspends IABF, Sports Ministry asks for re-election
In a fresh embarrassment for India, the International Boxing Association has provisionally suspended the Indian Boxing Federation alleging "possible manipulation" in its recent elections, prompting the government to suspend recognition to the body.
Barely a few days after the Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the IOC, the sudden development has again brought to fore the "faulty and flawed" electoral practises followed by the federations and has added to the chaos currently engulfing Indian sports.
"Further to the International Olympic Committee's suspension imposed on the Indian Olympic Association, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Executive Committee Bureau has decided today December 6 to provisionally suspend the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF)," the AIBA said in a statement.
"This provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF's election. "AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA President, as former Chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election," it added.
During the September elections of the IABF, outgoing President Abhay Singh Chautala, who was elected IOA President despite IOC's suspension, was retained in the body as nominated Chairman. Interestingly, his brother-in-law and BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Abhishek Matoria, 29, was elected as the new IABF President.
Hours after the new broke out, the Sports Ministry also cracked the whip on IABF by suspending recognition and giving it 15 days to confirm a re-election. "IABF has been suspended primarily on grounds that elections were flawed and faulty and the nomination time given was very less. When the nomination did not come in, people were just picked from the house. We have given them 15 days time to confirm that they would hold a re-election," said Sports Minister Jitendra Singh.
The Ministry also listed the flaws in the election in a detailed statement. "The publication of the electoral roll was flawed because it was not possible for the electoral roll to be dispatched to members by post prior to the last date for filing of nominations and merely publishing on the website is not considered sufficient notice or information to all members," it said.
Among other flaws, the Ministry said, "Members were not given sufficient time to file nominations as the gap between the finalisation of the electoral roll and the filing of nomination was too short to allow people to travel large distances and file nominations personally."
Rattled by the suspension, Chautala said he was willing to step down from his post and the body was ready to hold a re-election to regain AIBA's affiliation. "We are ready for a re-election and I am ready to quit the post of chairman. AIBA can send its observer and fix the date also. I have told the IABF President and Secretary General to speak to the AIBA officials and sort out the matter," Chautala told reporters here.
"Whoever has complained against us is against the country. There is no problem in boxing," he insisted. The development put a question mark over Chautala's election as IOA President since he came into the fray as an IABF representative.
Chautala, however, asserted that his position in the IOA is not threatened as he is the President of the Haryana Olympic Association. "Since I am the President of the Haryana Olympic Association, I can continue," he said. Matoria, meanwhile, said the world body had been apprised of the election process in detail.
"AIBA had specific queries about the election process and we had explained to them that there was no manipulation. Those who got elected were unanimous choices and just because there was unanimity, the AIBA cannot allege manipulation," Matoria told PTI.
"This is a provisional suspension and I am sure it would be lifted soon after we explain our stand to AIBA. If need be, I will personally go and speak to AIBA officials in Lausanne," he said.
"Our boxers are not threatened by any repercussions for the time being because the next major AIBA event is quite far and the matter will be resolved by then," he added. The next AIBA event is the Junior World Championships in August next year, followed by the senior World Championships in October.
Meanwhile, the AIBA's decision came as a bolt from the blue for the boxers, many of whom are in the national camp in Patiala. "It is a sad day for Indian boxing and I can't understand how such a development can take place. I don't understand why the matter was not explained to AIBA," India's first Olympic medallist in the sport, Vijender Singh, said.
The Beijing Olympics bronze-medallist was, however, hopeful that the issue would be resolved soon. "The next AIBA event is quite far but hopefully we would not sit on it for too long and get the suspension revoked as soon as possible," he said.
London Olympics bronze-medallist female boxer M C Mary Kom said the AIBA's decision was upsetting. "As a player we have to compete in so many championships. After we heard this news, we are feeling very upset. If the AIBA bans IABF, there is no use, that's why I request the high authorities to bring a solution," she said.