Michael’s Conlan’s controversial loss in the 2016 Olympic Games is confirmed to have been a result of “bout manipulation”, an independent investigation has revealed.
The Belfast boxer lost in a widely contested split decision to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarter-finals, and had been Team Ireland’s last remaining boxing medal hope in their eight-strong squad.
The new review’s details were released on Thursday. It was led by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who also found that more than 1,000 athletes in 30 sports were involved in state-sponsored doping by the Russian Federation in 2016.
Professor McLaren and his team have uncovered that as many as 11 fights during the boxing tournament in Rio five years ago were fixed, including Conlan’s.
The investigation followed a request from the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) to delve into alleged misconduct, after the organisation was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following its own four-month review of the 2016 tournament.
On Thursday, AIBA tweeted: “Prof McLaren's investigation revealed a system for manipulating results at Rio 2016. Our boxers deserve a fair fight. AIBA is committed to uncovering the truth and acting on it. AIBA will take all necessary steps to ensure justice for the past, and a fair future.”
Conlan, who won bronze in the London 2012 Olympics, has since reshared the post, writing “Lads I want my medal, get it sorted an ill DM you my address. Thanks. MC”
The now undefeated pro had made ringside claims that AIBA was behind his defeat, straight after the infamous 2016 match.
"AIBA are cheats,” he had told Irish state broadcaster, RTE.
"I'll never box for AIBA again,” he said. “They're cheating b******s, they're paying everybody. I came here to win Olympic gold. My dream has been shattered now.
"Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top. I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round, and the score went against me."
McLaren also found that one of the 2016 bouts was the subject of a six-figure bribe offer - $250,000 (£186,000) was offered to fix the lightweight semi-final between Mongolia’s Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu and Sofiane Oumiha of France.
In the end, no bribe was paid and the Mongolian boxer lost with "very unusual scoring" which was identical on all five judges’ scorecards.
The 152-page report details how senior AIBA officials, including the then president and executive director, allowed the wrongdoing to happen at the world’s most prestigious amateur sporting event.
The report details how "compliant and complicit" referees and judges, acting under a "culture of fear, intimidation and obedience" created by AIBA, corrupted the boxing tournament at Rio 2016.
"Once having acquired the power", AIBA's executive director, Karim Bouzidi “would oversee the appointment of referees and judges that knew what was going on but would comply with the manipulation or who were incompetent but wanted to continue as a Referee and Judge so were willing to comply or turn a blind eye to what was going on," McLaren said.
Then president, Ching-Kuo Wu also "avoided discussion of what he apparently knew was inappropriate conduct" in his reports to the IOC during his time on the executive board, which "masked the corrupt activity to present a false impression of actions at the AIBA to the IOC".
McLaren's team has recommended AIBA consider possible disciplinary action against Wu, Bouzidi, and "selected five-star and three-star referees and judges".
In a statement responding to the report, AIBA said it "noted the findings regarding the Rio 2016 boxing tournament with concern and confirmed that extensive reforms have been implemented to ensure sporting integrity at current AIBA competitions".
"AIBA hired Professor McLaren because we have nothing to hide,” the current AIBA president Umar Kremlev added.
"There should be no place in the AIBA family for anyone who has fixed a fight."