— Published 13 May 2022

Umar Kremlev has no rival

The future of boxing at the Olympic Games looks increasingly uncertain. It could even become a little darker with the now inevitable re-election of the Russian Umar Kremlev (photo above) to the presidency of the world body of the discipline (IBA). Scheduled for this Friday 13 May in Istanbul, on the sidelines of the Women’s World Championships, the election was to pit two candidates against each other, the incumbent Umar Kremlev and his Dutch rival, Boris van der Vorst. But the challenger was knocked out before the fight even started. Boris van der Vorst was declared ineligible by boxing’s independent integrity unit on Thursday 12 May, on the eve of the vote. He is accused of having participated in a coalition of nearly 20 countries calling for the departure of Umar Kremlev after the Russian army invaded Ukraine and denouncing the IBA’s links with the Russian giant Gazprom. Five other candidates for the body’s executive committee were also declared ineligible for the same reasons. Boris van der Vorst has announced his decision to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Barring an unlikely turn of events, Umar Kremlev will therefore be re-elected for a second term as IBA president. But his re-election risks isolating boxing and its body even more from the rest of the Olympic movement. The proof is the decision of the IOC to warn the body and its president, via a letter sent this week, of its serious concerns about the governance and financial stability of the organisation. The Olympic body recalls in its letter that the IBA is still suspended and that boxing is not yet on the programme of the Los Angeles 2028 Games. Above all, the IOC reiterates its criticism of the IBA’s governance, financial transparency and integrity, particularly on the issue of arbitration. The Olympic body also criticised the IBA for not providing precise information on the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Games, its financing and the logistics of the schedule.