The AIBA decision just announced to impose an immediate ban on the English Amateur Boxing Association (ABAE) has far reaching effects for boxers from all AIBA jurisdictions including Ireland.
Until the temporary suspension is lifted, it means that no Irish boxer (male or female) affiliated to the IABA is allow to compete against any member of the ABAE. The suspension does not apply to boxers from Wales or Scotland who have their own associations.
First let us look at what is behind the suspension?
In a letter to the ABAE Chairman, Keith Walters and President Mr Richard Caborn , on 19 July, copies of which appear in full on some national association websites though currently not on ABAE, the AIBA’s Executive Director,Mr Ho Kim, had this to say:
“It is with much regret that we have to inform you that, in accordance with Art. 17.1 of the AIBA Statutes, the AIBA Executive Committee decided on July 18, 2013 to provisionally suspend the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) and put this case for further review of the AIBA Disciplinary Commission due to serious breaches of the AIBA Statutes/Bylaws and of the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules, the relevant provisions of which are set out below.
(A) Violation of AIBA Technical & Competition Rules on English WSB Boxers
On April 6, 2013, the ABAE Board unanimously voted to suspend all English World Series of Boxing (WSB) Boxers from participating in the Senior National Championships pending a review of the matter by the ABAE Medical Commission. The stated reason provided by ABAE to AIBA for the suspension of the WSB Boxers was purportedly related to medical concerns regarding the participation of WSB Boxers against AOB Boxers. By the time the ABAE Medical Commission replied to the ABAE Board on March 22, 2013 and confirmed there was no medical reason why WSB Boxers could not participateagainst AOB Boxers, it was too late for the affected Boxers to take part in theirSenior National Championships.
The decision by the ABAE Board to impose the suspension on the WSB Boxers was taken despite (i) Rule 2.3.1 of the AOB Competition Rules, which states that, “all WSB Boxers will be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games and Olympic Qualifying Competitions at all levels as well as to designated important competitions”; (ii) the fact that WSB Boxers had competed against AOB Boxers in the London 2012 Olympic Games; and (iii)Article 13 (B) of the AIBA Statutes which states that “each National Federation is obliged to “comply fully with these Statutes, the AIBA Bylaws, the AIBA Technical and Competition Rules, the Code of Ethics, the Disciplinary Code and Procedural Rules”. Article 13 (A) of AIBA Statutes, obliges all National Federations “to abstain from any behavior detrimental to AIBA”.
(B) Violation on AIBA Statutes and Bylaws
(i) On July 9, 2013, Mr Richard Caborn, ABAE Chairman, provided a letter to AIBA attaching a draft of a revised version of the Articles of Association of the ABAE. Mr Caborn informed AIBA that the revised draft of the Articles had already been put to a vote by ABAE members, such vote to be completed by July 22, 2013. AIBA was not provided with a draft of the revised Articles prior to the Articles being circulated to the ABAE members for approval. Article 13 (D) of the AIBA Statutes confirms that where the statutes, constitution or bylaws of a National Federation are amended, they can only come into force “after receiving AIBA approval and shall not be subject to approval by any other external body”. It is apparent from Mr Caborn’s letter that the ABAE Articles of Association have been revised in consultation with an external body, namely, Sport England.
(ii) AIBA Headquarters reviewed the draft of the revised Articles and concluded that the revised Articles do not comply with the AIBA Statutes and Bylaws. Article 13 (B) of the AIBA Statutes states that each National Federation is obliged to “comply fully with these Statutes, the AIBA Bylaws, the AIBA Technical and Competition Rules, the Code of Ethics, the Disciplinary Code and Procedural Rules”.
(iii) Mr Caborn also informed AIBA of a plan to put a new ABAE Board in place and stated “the changes are fully supported by Sport England”, this despite Article 14.1 of the AIBA Statutes which states that “The election and appointment processes adopted by each National Federation must be approved by AIBA and each National Federation must prevent any and all external interference in their election and appointment processes”.
The communique ends:
“The provisional suspension will take effect immediately from today, July 19, 2013 and will continue pending a final decision by the AIBA Disciplinary Commission. During the period of the provisional suspension, all of ABAE’s membership rights will be suspended. For the avoidance of doubt, no ABAE officials, boxers or coaches shall be entitled to participate in any AIBA Competition at any level.”
A day later, Mr Ho Kim wrote to all National Federations including the IABA of course saying:
“It is with much regret that we have to inform you that in accordance with Art. 17.1 of the AIBA Statutes, the AIBA Executive Committee decided on July 18, 2013 to provisionally suspend the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) due to serious breaches of the AIBA Statutes and of AIBA Technical & Competition Rules. The Executive Committee has also decided to refer the ABAE case to the AIBA Disciplinary Commission for further review.
The communique ends:” It means that from today, your Federation must not entertain any sporting contact (including all competition related matters) or any AIBA business relations with the Amateur Boxing Association of England which has also provisionally lost all its membership rights. Any National Federation which violates these instructions will be subject to a sanction in accordance with the AIBA Disciplinary Code.”
So for the avoidance of any doubt, not that there is any, until the membership of the AIBA is restored to the ABAE (or perhaps a new English association(?),
No Irish boxer may take part in any club or international tournament against an English boxer. For the women that is unlikely anyway at International level as there is no International tournament again this year
Since Katie Taylor and Leanne Murphy took Gold and Silver at the recent European Union Championships. It could have an effect on Club tournaments though as no Irish boxer can compete in an ABAE tournament against an English opponent.
For the men however the situation is somewhat different. No English schoolboy can participate in this week’s European Schoolboys Championships in Citywest, unless of course there is any “clemency” deal offered by the AIBA which would allow English schoolboys to take part under the EUBC (AIBA) flag.
This has happened in the past when a country has been suspended by the AIBA. The suspension also means that until it is lifted no English boxer will be able to participate neither in European Elite Championships nor in APB or WSB competitions – a huge blow. Similarly no involvement of any other English officials be they referees, judges or coaches, corner men….
In the best interests of the sport of boxing, this situation needs to be resolved quickly by all involved and hopefully a compromise can be reached that will allow the English schoolboys to appear in Citywest this week.