Manny Pacquiao

IOC meets to vote on allowing professional boxers to compete at Rio Olympics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 11:19am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 11:19am

Boxing’s governing body will decide on Wednesday whether to let professional fighters into the Olympic ring from the Rio de Janeiro Games in August.

But the International Boxing Association (Aiba) will also have to answer questions about its dope-testing policies when it gathers before an International Olympic Committee executive meeting in Lausanne that will be dominated by doping scandals.

Aiba members are to hold a special congress to decide whether to let professionals into the Olympics.

While the boxing revolution is unlikely to see the likes of former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko or top American fighters compete for gold in Rio it would boost the card for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

For most professionals, it is already too late to take part in a qualifying contest for the Rio Games. The last tournament is in Venezuela in July.

Letting in professionals is “part of the evolution of boxing”, said a senior Aiba official ahead of Wednesday’s vote which is expected to easily pass.

Ukraine’s Klitschko won a gold medal at Atlanta in 1996 and had indicated he would like a new try in Rio. But he has made his July 9 rematch with Britain’s Tyson Fury for the world heavyweight title his priority.

Boxing has undergone major changes in recent years. Women were allowed into Olympic competition in 2012 and headguards will no longer be compulsory from Rio.

Philippine legend Manny Pacquiao, who won world titles at eight different categories, also hinted he was interested but said this week he would concentrate on his burgeoning political career.

But not all boxers back the new proposal. Former Olympic and world heavyweight title holder Lennox Lewis said it would be “preposterous” to let professionals into the same ring as amateurs.

Aiba president Wu Ching-kuo will have to face questions at the IOC executive about boxing’s doping practices, as the Olympic movement confronts mounting accusations over banned substances.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report found that the Aiba has not carried out any out-of-competition tests in the year ahead of Rio and hardly any in the past three years, the British magazine Private Eye reported.

The report was quoted as saying that the Aiba’s actions fell “considerably short” of Wada’s requirements.

Wada spokesman Ben Nichols would not comment directly on the substance of the Private Eye report but confirmed that the agency’s inspection team had given Aiba recommendations aimed at “improving and enhancing” its anti-doping programme.

Aiba had started working on the implementation of the recommendations, the Wada spokesman said.