NEXT SUMMER’S OLYMPICS have been dealt a blow by a BBC Newsnight investigation which claims that the Azerbaijan government paid vast sums of money to guarantee gold medals in boxing.
Whistleblowers told the BBC that $9m was paid to Worlds Series Boxing (WSB), a subsidiary of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA).
WSB was launched last year as an attempt to establish a global amateur series to rival professional boxing, but was believed to be struggling financially. Its chief operating officer, Ivan Khodabakhsh, is at the centre of the corruption allegations.
Khodabakhsh is alleged to have orchestrated a deal with the Azeri government which would see them bail out the ailing WSB in exchange for guaranteed Olympic gold in London next year.
As one insider told Newsnight:
Ivan boasted to a few of us that there was no need to worry about World Series Boxing having the coin to pay its bills. As long as the Azeris got their medals, WSB would have the cash.
However, both Khodabakhsh and the AIBA deny any wrongdoing, claiming the $9m was an investment made in WSB by an unnamed Azeri national with the government simply acting as an intermediary.
Lawyers for AIBA told the BBC the allegation that medals had been bought was “preposterous and untrue”.
In an official statement from AIBA and WSB, the associations said they believed the allegations had been “made by individuals with an axe to grind, who are totally discredited.”