'Used signals': Explosive findings about match fixing at Olympics

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Irishman Michael Conlan was furious at the result of his 2016 Rio semi-final, which has since been one of a number bouts at the games to be investigated over corruption claims. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Irishman Michael Conlan was furious at the result of his 2016 Rio semi-final, which has since been one of a number bouts at the games to be investigated over corruption claims. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

A bombshell independent investigation into boxing at the 2016 Rio Olympics has found evidence of 'corruption' and 'bribery' among judges.

The report, prepared by Professor Richard McLaren, who exposed the systematic doping regime employed by Russian sporting authorities, appointed by the International Boxing Association, known as AIBA.

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McLaren found AIBA officials selected referees and judges to ensure that bouts could be manipulated in Olympic qualifying and at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

He reported a 'culture of fear, intimidation and obedience' among referees and judges had allowed the competition to become compromised.

Referees and judges were told who should win a bout in the morning before a day of fights at the Olympics, McLaren said.

He wasn't able to identify who was ultimately responsible for running the match-fixing scheme and selecting winners.

A 'culture of favours' existed among certain countries who invested in AIBA with the expectation of results being influenced in their favour.

McLaren told The Guardian that a group of 'five-star' officials had been hand-selected under the guidance of the now disgraced former AIBA president, Wu Ching-kuo.

Officials who refused to manipulate results were carefully managed out of the organisation, with approved officials using ringside signals or communicating before the fight who was to be the winner.

Roughly 11 fights from the Rio Olympics were examined in the investigation, perhaps most notably Irish fighter Michael Conlan's loss to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin.

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After the judges awarded the fight to Nikitin, Conlan showed them his middle fingers and accused Russia and AIBA of corruption.

McLaren's report didn't offer a verdict on whether the result of that fight was fixed.

The Irishman was disgusted, protesting at the time: "I've been robbed of my Olympic dream."

On hearing the news of the report's findings on Thursday, Conlan said: "I'm going to be honest, it was a shock.

"I thought it was all put to bed, it was finished and nothing was going to happen, but here we are five years later and probably coming to a final close, which is great.

"I'm delighted and I hope that justice will be served. It shows that my reactions and my actions during the time were just and now hopefully I'll have a bit of vindication by the end of this."

McLaren's report also included witness testimony of discussions at the 2016 Olympics over a bribe of up to $US250,000 for a Mongolian boxer to beat a fighter from France in a semi-final bout.

The witness alleged a man from Kazakhstan working as a referee and judge asked for the money in exchange for fixing the fight in Mongolia's favour.

No bribe was paid and the Mongolian boxer lost with "very unusual scoring" which was identical on all five judges' scorecards, the report states.

AIBA has been led by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev since December and says it has reformed how bouts are judged since 2016, when ex-president CK Wu was in charge.

Irish boxer Michael Conlan was heavily fined and criticised for his reaction to his loss in the semi-finals of Rio 2016, however that match has been one of a number investigated for corruption. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Irish boxer Michael Conlan was heavily fined and criticised for his reaction to his loss in the semi-finals of Rio 2016, however that match has been one of a number investigated for corruption. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

None of the referees or judges from 2016 were in their posts for this year's Olympics in Tokyo after being suspended by AIBA.

This year's Olympic tournaments were organised not by AIBA but directly by the International Olympic Committee, which remains unhappy with how AIBA is run.

The IOC said this month it has "deepest concerns" about AIBA and that it received complaints about refereeing and judging at two major AIBA events this year, the Asian championships and world youth championships.

The IOC has so far refused to confirm boxing will stay on the Olympic program at the 2024 Games in Paris.

McLaren's investigation will now broaden to examine whether there was corruption in AIBA management.

With AAP

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