LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With Olympic boxing under investigation by the IOC, the president of the sport’s governing body said on Friday he was stepping aside to let an interim leader take charge.
Gafur Rakhimov sai d he was not resigning as AIBA president, however, and did not call for new elections.
Rakhimov’s status on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list as an alleged heroin trafficker is part of an inquiry by an International Olympic Committee-appointed panel.
The panel will update the IOC executive board next week in Lausanne, Switzerland. AIBA could be derecognized by IOC members in June.
The IOC halted planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic boxing tournaments and blocked AIBA officials from contacting organizers in Japan.
“The allegations against me were fabricated and based on politically motivated lies,” Rakhimov said. “I trust that the truth will prevail. Nevertheless, I have always said that I would never put myself above boxing, and as president, I have a duty to do everything in my power to serve our sport and our athletes.”
Under AIBA statutes, an interim president is picked from among the five vice-presidents, who include several Rakhimov supporters. The executive committee is due to meet by telephone this weekend. The interim leader can serve only a maximum 365 days before fresh elections, however, meaning that arrangement can’t last through to the Tokyo Olympics.
When Rakhimov was elected last year, his supporters pushed for a plan to allow the president to step aside while still retaining key influence and being able to return at any time, but that was defeated.
It’s not clear if Rakhimov’s departure would be enough to calm the IOC, which has also criticized AIBA over how fights are judged, anti-doping measures, and its debts.
The IOC could try to host an Olympic boxing tournament without AIBA, and some national boxing officials have tried to form a group which could help the IOC stage the event.