RIO DE JANEIRO — After Russian fighters were awarded victories in a pair of controversial decisions at the Rio Olympics, boxing’s ruling federation has expelled a number of judges and referees it determined were not performing “at the level expected.”
The International Boxing Association, known as AIBA, did not disclose the number of officials suspended, but the BBC reported six of the 60 judges in Rio will no longer work at the Games.
AIBA spokesman Nicolas Jomard would neither confirm nor deny that number.
Boxers and national team coaches have complained about a number of decisions, prominent among them Russian Vladimir Nikitin’s unanimous decision over Michael John Conlan of Ireland in a bantamweight quarterfinal Tuesday and Monday’s heavyweight final, in which Russian Evgeny Tischenko won a unanimous decision over Kazakhstan’s Vasiliy Levit.
Conlan lost a medal even though he appeared to win all three rounds of his fight. After the decision was announced Nikitin dropped to his knees and covered his face with his hands in obvious relief while Conlan refused to leave the ring, tearing off his top, flipping off the judges and flexing his muscles to the crowd, which cheered him.
In the heavyweight bout, Tishchenki won the decision despite sustaining a serious cut to the head and spending the whole bout backpedaling.
Vietnam’s Vuong Trong Nghia and Brazil’s Jones Kennedy Silva do Rosario judged both bouts. Nghia also worked Claressa Shields’ women’s middleweight bout Wednesday without incident.
AIBA rules do not allow for an appeal of either decision.
After his loss, Conlan accused the judges of being corrupt, noting the two most controversial decisions favored Russian fighters.
Rio is the first Olympics in which scoring is being done on the 10-point must system used in professional boxing. In past Olympic computers, judges used a computer system to count each punch, no matter how damaging the blow, and award the bout to the fighter who was most active.
Under the new system, judges declare a winner after each round based on criteria including quality of punches landed, aggression and tactics. Five judges score each bout with a computer randomly selecting which scorecards will count.
Some judges complained that they were having trouble transitioning from the old scoring system to the new one and the AIBA’s executive committee conceded that it was very concerned with the scoring after the Conlan and Levit fights.
The AIBA said it reviewed all 239 bouts conducted before Wednesday and determined that “less than a handful were not at the level expected” it said in a statement.
The AIBA also dismissed the corruption allegations saying that “unless tangible proof is put forward, not rumors, we will continue to use any means, including legal or disciplinary actions to protect our sport.”