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boxing scandal Michael Conlan’s controversial Olympic defeat likely to have been a ‘manipulated bout’


Michael Conlan was on the wrong end of a controversial decision at the 2016 Olympics.

Michael Conlan was on the wrong end of a controversial decision at the 2016 Olympics.

Michael Conlan was on the wrong end of a controversial decision at the 2016 Olympics.

Michael Conlan’s controversial Rio Olympic boxing loss was likely to have been a "manipulated bout", according to an official report into allegations of corruption at the 2016 tournament.

Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who is leading the investigation into the scandal, confirmed at a news conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, this afternoon that Conlan’s controversial loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, in the bronze medal bout, was one of 11 suspicious matches likely part of a "bout manipulation" scheme at the tournament.

McLaren also found "problems" in relation to the verdict that saw France’s Tony Yoka secure the gold medal in the heavyweight final over Britain’s Joe Joyce.

He revealed a bribe of $250,000 was offered to fix the outcome of the lightweight semi-final between Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia and Sofiane Oumiha of France.

McLaren, who conducted the 2016 investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping by the Russian Federation, was hired by the recently elected president of boxing’s world governing body (AIBA), Umar Kremlev, a Russian.

Even though there were a series of controversial judging decisions at the Rio Games, the fall-out from the Conlan fight was spectacular as the Belfast fighter reacted with fury when the decision was announced.

“They’re f****** cheats,” he declared. “They’re known for being cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top. It’s about whoever pays the most money.”

The fall-out from Rio began before the tournament was over, with French native Karim Bouzidi, an AIBA executive director, and a panel of six so-called five-star judges, including Ireland’s Michael Gallagher, removed.

Subsequently, all 36 judges and referees who officiated at Rio were stood down, none having a role at the Tokyo Games.

France won six medals in the boxing tournament in Rio, including two gold in Rio. Interestingly, at the recent Games in Tokyo this summer, they didn’t feature in the medal table.

Current AIBA president Kremlev said of the report: “ I am determined to ensure that boxers receive a fair fight. This determination is demonstrated by AIBA’s clear commitment to uncovering the truth and acting on it.

“We must now carefully examine the report and see what steps are needed to ensure justice. What is important is that we make sure the mechanisms are in place to show that results are above suspicion.”

AIBA was suspended and barred from organising the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020 after an International Olympic Committee (IOC) task force review of the sport’s governance, management, refereeing and judging. The IOC directly oversaw the competition in Japan instead.

AIBA has been warned boxing’s place at the 2024 Games in Paris is in jeopardy unless shortcomings identified in the review are addressed.

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