Less than one-and-a-half months after it suspended the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) but allowed the Indian boxers to compete in international competitions, the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) has had another change of heart.

This time, the AIBA has said the Indian boxers would not be allowed to compete.

Having first taken the decision to suspend the IABF on December 6 last, based on reported irregularities in the elections to the Indian body, and the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the AIBA had allowed the boxers to compete.

In a confusing scenario later, the AIBA barred Indian officials, apart from coaches, from participating in international competitions, refused to communicate with the “elected” office-bearers of the Indian federation, and then stated that it would deal only with the Indian Sports Ministry.

SAI’s initiative

Thus, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) took the initiative to enquire from the AIBA whether it could initiate a dialogue with the international body about how to proceed further in helping Indian boxers compete abroad.

“I regret to inform you that for the time being Indian boxers and coaches may not participate to (sic) any AIBA approved or controlled competition nor host any other team,” wrote AIBA Director of External Relations, Patricia Steulet, in a communication to the SAI on January 7.

AIBA public relations and communications director Sebastien Gillot informed in an email on Thursday: “Given the lack of progress made to resolve the situation in India, AIBA has been left with no choice but to extend its suspension to all boxers and coaches until such time as this complicated situation has been resolved.

“AIBA strongly urges the IABF to do its utmost to resolve the situation as soon as possible, in the best interests of the athletes.”

In more than a month the IABF has made little progress towards resolving the issue. It had stated that it would be willing to hold fresh elections. But having reportedly submitted an amended version of its constitution to the AIBA, it has found the going tough since there had been no communication.

Since the AIBA has said that it would not deal with the present IABF set-up, the federation has been communicating with the apex body through Kishan Narsi, an AIBA executive council member from India and the vice-chairman of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Commission.

Suspended IABF secretary-general Rajesh Bhandari said the constitution amendments proposed included that related to allowing all the boxers to participate in the AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) and WSB.

Open for scrutiny

“Besides that if they have any objection regarding anything, we are open for scrutiny and ready to rectify if there is any problem. We are even ready to conduct our elections again.”

From day one, the IABF had been talking of being “even ready to conduct” the elections again though it has been directed by the ministry to do so or face de-recognition. Further dithering may lead to more harm to the boxers.

On its part the AIBA has also apparently not told the IABF what it wants in clear terms. There is nothing in the AIBA constitution which suggests that its election procedures and tenure clauses should also be applicable to national federations even though the AIBA has the right to scrutinise election procedures and ethical practices in the running of its units.

The SAI wanted to further proceed on the matter, encouraged as it was with the AIBA response that it would deal only with the ministry. It was keen to open a dialogue with the international federation in the light of competitions coming up in Germany and Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Turkey, China and Ukraine in January-March.

It also informed the AIBA that it wanted the Indian teams to compete under the Indian flag.

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