TOKYO (AP) — The International Olympic Committee ordered an inquiry Friday into the amateur boxing federation, which elected an alleged heroin trafficker as president four weeks ago.
The IOC said AIBA cannot contact organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during the inquiry.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the inquiry into finance, governance and ethics by a three-member panel “can lead to the withdrawal of recognition” of AIBA.
The full IOC membership next meets in June in Lausanne, Switzerland, which is a deadline the IOC suggested for a final decision on boxing’s future. One option for the IOC is to organize an Olympic boxing tournament, including qualifying, outside of AIBA’s control.
IOC sports director Kit McConnell said the move to postpone a decision was not simply “kicking the can down the road.” He said he’s also hopeful boxing will take place — in some form, run by somebody.
“At the end of the day our goal is still to run an Olympic boxing tournament in Tokyo and protect athletes in that regard,” McConnell said. “All efforts will be made to protect the athletes and make sure a boxing tournament can take place in Tokyo 2020 regardless of these moves.”
AIBA member federations voted for Gafur Rakhimov of Uzbekistan as president in Moscow on Nov. 3 despite being on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list.
Rakhimov denies links to organized crime networks and the international drug trade. The long-time AIBA executive committee member was prevented from attending the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2012 London Olympics by Australian and British government authorities.
The American federal sanctions bar U.S. citizens and companies from doing business with him.
McConnell said the Olympic body is concerned because AIBA has been struggling to open or maintain bank accounts in Switzerland. AIBA is based near IOC headquarters in Lausanne.
During the IOC-appointed inquiry, the Tokyo Olympic boxing program will be frozen: No tickets will be sold, no test event held and no qualifying format approved. The IOC had previously suspended payments to AIBA from Olympic revenues.
The inquiry will be chaired by IOC board member Nenad Lalovic, the Serbian president of wrestling’s governing body. It includes IOC member Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico and IOC athletes commission member Emma Terho, an Ohio State graduate who represented Finland in hockey at previous Olympics.
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