November 28, 2023

AIBA to sue Olympic broadcaster BBC after London 2012 cash for medal allegations repeated

Magomedrasul Medzhidov (in red) is one of the Azeri fighters at the centre of the allegations

By Tom Degun at ExCeL in London

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has announced that it will sue the BBC after the Olympic broadcaster last night rebroadcast allegations from its Newsnight documentary last year in which it claimed Azerbaijan had secretly paid millions in exchange for two boxing Olympic gold medals at London 2012.

The programme claimed that an individual from Azerbaijan paid $10 million (£6.4 million/€8.1 million) to World Series Boxing (WSB), the professional tournament owned by AIBA, in exchange for the victories.

Inquiries by both International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a Special Investigation Committee set up by AIBA have failed to find any wrongdoings.

AIBA President CK Wu

But the BBC reaffirmed its accusations after two Azeri boxers – super heavyweight Magomedrasul Medzhidov and heavyweight Teymur Mammadov (pictured top, in red) – reached the men’s semi-finals to guarantee themselves at least an Olympic bronze medal.

AIBA President CK Wu claimed that his organisation had become angered by the BBC’s continual attempts to discredit it and will now be pursuing legal action.

“In September last year the BBC alleged that AIBA took a $10 million (£6.4 million/€8.1 million) bribe from Azerbaijan in exchange for two gold medals at the Olympic Games in London,” said Wu, who became AIBA President in 2006.

“Both AIBA and the IOC investigated the claim and could find no evidence to support it.

“The BBC rebroadcast the allegation last night, on the eve of the semi-finals, having been told it is untrue.

“Therefore, I have today instructed the London libel firm PSB Law to begin legal action against the BBC.”

The latest allegations came in the wake of a controversial bantamweight fight here last week when Azerbaijan’s Magomed Abdulhamidov was given the decision over Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu, despite being floored six times in the final round.

He was declared the winner as the referee refused to disqualify the Azeri despite his obvious attempts to waste time.

AIBA intervened and overturned the result of the fight.

“I have worked extremely hard over the past six years to clean up Olympic boxing after years of corruption scandals under the previous administration and I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by the BBC,” said Wu.

The allegations against the Azeri boxers appear to be unfair given that Medzhidov is the current world champion and world-ranked one in his division while Mammadov is the reigning World Championship silver medallist and ranked three in his class.

The allegations were further discredited today after Mammadov lost his semi-final bout 15-13 against Italy’s Clemente Russo in the afternoon session before Medzhidov was bested 13-12 in his last-four clash with reigning Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle of Italy here in the evening session.

It means that Azerbaijan leave London with two bronze medals rather than the two gold medals it was alleged they had paid for.

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