The presidential election to lead the amateur boxing association, with its recognition by the Olympic movement potentially at stake, will now have two candidates. The Court of Arbitration for Sport delivered an urgent ruling on Tuesday clearing Serik Konakbayev of Kazakhstan to stand for president of AIBA in Saturday’s vote against an alleged heroin trafficker.
While Konakbayev is an Olympic silver medalist, AIBA interim president Gafur Rakhimov has been described as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals” by the U.S. Treasury Department. Rakhimov’s assets in American jurisdiction have been frozen.
The International Olympic Committee has warned AIBA it risks being barred from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if Rakhimov wins the election. The sport of boxing, however, is not at risk of being dropped from the Olympic program.
The IOC did not let Rakhimov attend the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires this month, and British authorities previously blocked his accreditation request for the 2012 London Olympics. CAS said its panel upheld Konakbayev’s appeal after a hearing on Monday to challenge his exclusion by AIBA to compete against Rakhimov.
An AIBA election committee had ruled his candidacy invalid for missing a deadline last month to gather enough nominations by national boxing federations. On Tuesday, the highest court in sports said its judging panel found AIBA’s election committee “unduly refused the nominations returned on a wrong form by several federations in support of (Konakbayev).”
“Therefore, the panel acknowledged that Serik Konakbayev reached the threshold of 20 nominations supporting his candidature for the AIBA Presidency within the relevant time limit,” CAS said.
The election is scheduled for Saturday in Moscow, where Konakbayev took silver while representing the Soviet Union in the light-welterweight class at the 1980 Olympics.
The IOC has previously frozen funding to AIBA over concerns about Rakhimov, the governing body’s governance standards and claims of suspect results in bouts at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Olympic body has said it wants boxers to compete in Tokyo, though said in Buenos Aires that the 2020 competition could be organized outside of AIBA’s control.