IOC welcomes 2012 boxing fix investigation

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The International Olympics Committee has urged the BBC to hand over any further evidence it may have regarding allegations that large amounts of money were paid out in an attempt to ensure boxers from Azerbaijan received gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.

The International Amateur Boxing Association has launched an investigation after the claims were made on last night's Newsnight programme, which found payments of millions of dollars from an Azeri national to the AIBA's World Series of Boxing competition.

The money was allegedly in return for guaranteed Azeri gold medals at the Games.

An IOC statement this morning said: "We welcome AIBA's announcement of an immediate enquiry into these claims and we await the outcome of their investigation.

"For its part the IOC takes all allegations of corruption very seriously. And we would urge the BBC to make any evidence they have available to AIBA and to our Ethics Commission which will then determine if further action is necessary.

"We would also note that the judging process in boxing as in other sports at the Games are transparent and open to public scrutiny - and a number of sports including boxing have made significant changes to their procedures in recent years to deal with any potential issues."

The allegations come with the World Championships - which double as the first Olympic qualifiers - due to begin this weekend in Baku. They were moved to the Azeri capital from their original choice of Busan, South Korea, last year.

The allegations, from an unnamed insider, relate to the financial affairs of the World Series of Boxing, a full-time, salaried tournament inaugurated by AIBA last year - ostensibly to make it more attractive to fighters to stay in the amateur ranks.

Allegations of corruption relating to Olympic boxing are nothing new. The most notorious incident related to Roy Jones' light-middleweight final against South Korea's Park Si-Hun in Seoul in 1988.

Despite out-landing his opponent 86-32 on the punch statistics, Jones lost the verdict on a 3-2 split among the five judges. All three judges who ruled in favour of the South Korean were subsequently suspended.

Top boxing promoter Frank Warren urged caution over the Newsnight allegations, insisting the programme had failed to come up with proof that the Olympic event was set to be rigged.

Warren told BBC Radio Five Live: "From what I have seen on the programme... it was an unknown source, so where is the proof?

"And I don't understand what the end result was. You pay USD10million for two gold medals to make Azerbaijan the world capital of boxing?

"If someone said, 'here is the proof', then let's see it. The programme didn't show that. Where was the money? Where did the money change hands?

"It could be some idiot coming out with this thing, it doesn't mean it's actually happening. Where does it say someone is sponsoring this competition? Where does it say it's going to guarantee two gold medals?"

Warren was also keen to put the Roy Jones decision in 1988 into context.

Warren added: "You get wrong decisions in all sports. The Roy Jones fight was 23 years ago. I thought Roy Jones won the fight but one bad decision in 23 years is to me ridiculous.

"It (the Jones fight) is the one everyone is highlighting and the inference is that the event was in Korea and the Korean boxer won so the result was crooked."

A spokesman for the British Amateur Boxing Association said: "Our boxers and coaches are focused solely on competing at the World Championships and will not allow this issue to distract their preparations.

"The squad has performed very well in competitions in 2011 and aims to continue its excellent run."

A spokesman for the Amateur Boxing Association of England, which is an affiliate of AIBA, said: "We are surprised by the allegations. We support AIBA's no tolerance position on corruption and its decision to hold an investigation."