IOC chief demands 2012 boxing bribe evidence from BBC
Last updated on .From the section Olympics
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has called on the BBC to provide evidence into claims attempts have been made to fix boxing results at the 2012 Olympic Games.
BBC Newsnight uncovered evidence of secret payments from Azerbaijan to World Series Boxing, to allegedly guarantee two golds.
"We take every allegation very seriously," said Rogge.
The International Amateur Boxing Association denies the claim.
A BBC spokesperson said: "Newsnight has been talking to the authorities and will assist where appropriate."
AIBA is the international governing body for the sport of boxing recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while World Series Boxing, a franchised league of professional boxing, is one of its initiatives.
AIBA is, however, investigating the claims and Rogge added: "We welcome the inquiry by the AIBA and we have asked the BBC to provide evidence."
Since the allegations surfaced, AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo has also denounced the BBC claims, saying they are "totally untrue and ludicrous," though he added he would investigate them.
A spokesman for the Azeri government said in a statement to the BBC, "the allegations are based on false facts and absurd conclusions."
According to the BBC report, an Azeri national paid $9m (£5.8m) to a WSB competition.
After the programme was broadcast, AIBA issued a statement saying a loan to WSB had been made by "an Azerbaijani investor... made on a commercial basis and with a view to a commercial return for the investor."
AIBA said it believed the allegations were made by individuals with an axe to grind and added that the claims "demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the procedures which lead to the award of Olympic boxing medals and the impossibility of influencing these."
The statement added: "Any suggestion that the loan was made in return for promises of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics is preposterous and utterly untrue."
A spokesperson for the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE), which is affiliated to AIBA, said: "We are surprised by the allegations. We support AIBA's zero tolerance position on corruption and its decision to hold an investigation."
The BBC report cited unnamed "whistleblowers" as having told its reporters they had been informed about a deal by WSB's chief operating officer Ivan Khodabakhsh. The programme also said the money was needed by the WSB because it had run into financial difficulties in the United States.
Khodabakhsh denied the allegations as "an absolute lie".
"I deny that I have offered anyone two gold medals or have any understanding that anybody else has offered two gold medals to Azerbaijan," he added.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the British Amateur Boxing Association, which manages the elite GB Boxing programme for the Olympic Games, said: "Our boxers and coaches are focused solely on competing at the World Championships and will not allow this issue to distract their preparations.
"The squad has performed very well in competitions in 2011 and aims to continue its excellent run."
Azerbaijan's only boxing medal at the last Olympics in Beijing was a bronze.
The BBC's report comes just days before the World Amateur Boxing Championships get under way on 26 September in Baku, Azerbaijan.