The last-minute disqualification of presidential candidate Boris van der Vorst by the International Boxing Association (IBA) has thrown its Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul into turmoil.
The presidential election that was scheduled for Friday was postponed by one day to Saturday, to allow van der Vorst and the four disqualified candidates for the Board to Directors to make an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Yet with CAS unable to hear their appeal on Friday, the election may have to be postponed further to allow the court to hear their appeal. It is uncertain whether IBA will agree to this.
Van der Vorst had requested CAS for urgent provisional measures to bar IBA from conducting the presidential election till his appeal could be heard. However, his request was turned down by CAS.
USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee, Boxing New Zealand president Steve Hartley, Swedish Boxing Federation president Per-Axel Sjöholm and Danish Boxing Association president Lars Brovil were disqualified as candidates for the Board of Directors on Thursday by IBA’s Interim Nomination Unit.
They released a joint statement with van der Vorst, noting that current IBA president Umar Kremlev postponed the election for one day to “allow for CAS and for the ineligible candidates time to do their legal work.”
“This is a fundamentally fair acknowledgment of the process embedded in the IBA Constitution to ensure that disputes concerning candidacies are decided in an expedited but fundamentally fair process by an independent party,” the joint statement read.
“We have decided to invoke our Constitutional rights to appeal the last-minute decision of the BIIU Interim Nomination Unit to CAS under Section 27.9 of the IBA Constitution.”
Section 27.9 states that if a candidate does not satisfy the eligibility criteria, a decision can be appealed to CAS within five days.
It will be decided by a sole arbitrator, appointed jointly by IBA and the candidate, or CAS, with a decision made within 10 days of the filing. This means a CAS decision could come 10 days from now.
“Since CAS has not yet heard any appeal under the provisions of Section 27.9, but only denied an abbreviated request for provisional measures, we thank Mr. Kremlev for standing by the IBA Constitutional rights of all constituents to provide an election in which all IBA constituents and the IOC can have confidence,” added the statement.
This makes it clear that for the presidential election to be considered legitimate, IBA should wait for CAS to rule on the disqualification of van der Vorst.
But will Kremlev be ready to wait? His team may be keen on forcing an election on Saturday, even though that would be controversial and risk making any election victory hollow.
If the election does go ahead on Saturday with van der Vorst disqualified and Kremlev standing unopposed, that may well be the end of IBA’s Olympic future.
The IOC will not be inclined to allow IBA to return to the Olympic Games, with democratic concerns added to the already large challenges it faces in governance, financial stability, and refereeing and judging.