LONDON (Reuters) - A Turkmen boxing referee and an Azerbaijani technical official were expelled from the London Olympics on Thursday after a night of controversy plunged the sport back into the mire.
The focus should be turning to women boxers competing at an Olympic Games for the first time on Sunday but instead the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) has had to deal with the type of scandals that dogged it almost a decade ago.
Turkmen referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov and Azerbaijani International Technical Official Aghajan Abiyev were sent home with immediate effect, while a second referee, Frank Scharmach of Germany, was suspended.
“I deeply regret that we had to take these decisions,” AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo said in a statement.
“However, our main concern has been and will always be the protection of the integrity and fair-play of our competitions. I will take all possible steps to reinforce this.”
He later told Reuters: “There is only one truth and we always get to the truth.”
Meretnyyazov failed to stop a men’s bantamweight bout on Wednesday evening despite fighter Magomed Abdulhamidov being knocked down six times in the final round. The referee was expelled and AIBA said he was on his way home.
Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu, who went into the last round of the bout against the Azerbaijani trailing by seven points, lost the contest by five when all three rounds were scored.
AIBA later overturned the verdict saying Meretnyyazov should have given the Azerbaijani “at least” three standing counts which would have resulted in the contest being stopped.
Azerbaijani official Abiyev was expelled for breaking his contract by communicating with his country’s team, according to an AIBA document obtained by Reuters.
Abiyev broke two of the codes in his contract, according to a copy seen by Reuters. Code 7 forbids technical officials from communicating with anybody about any competition, especially persons from their own country or national federation.
German referee Scharmach was suspended for being too quick to serve Iran’s Ali Mazaheri with warnings for persistent holding, the third of which resulted in the heavyweight fighter being disqualified in the second round of his bout.
Mazaheri was leading Cuban Jose Larduet Gomez by two points going into the second round but the Iran team did not appeal and under AIBA rules it is now too late to do so.
Mazaheri accused officials of “a fix” after the fight.
There were more complaints on Thursday when Ukraine’s Olympic Committee told Reuters it was considering taking a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after middleweight Evhen Khytrov lost a tight contest to Briton Anthony Ogogo.
Hungarian officials also cried foul when one of the country’s boxers lost by a similar margin.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored ties with AIBA in 2006 after freezing some funds to the association over controversial scoring decisions at the 2004 Athens Games.
At the time, the IOC expressed concerns over the scoring process and the selection of judges and froze more than $1 million in payments to AIBA.
The boxing tournament in Athens was marred by several controversial scores that angered spectators and fans.
Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann and Patrick Johnston; Editing by Alison Wildey and Ken Ferris