Gafur Rakhimov has been urged by the IOC not to stand for President ©AIBA

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged interim head Gafur Rakhimov not to stand for President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) as his candidacy would go against the "best interests" of the sport as it battles to retain its place on the Olympic programme.

insidethegames can reveal chief ethics and compliance officer Päquerette Girard Zappelli issued an ultimatum in a letter to Rakhimov which says him running for the top job could put boxing's place at Tokyo 2020 at further risk amid the Uzbek's links to alleged organised crime.

In the letter, dated August 31 and obtained by insidethegames, Zappelli says it will be "crucial in the best interests of boxing within the Olympic Movement that only candidates benefiting from a full clean situation can stand for the President's position".

Zappelli makes reference to the claims against Rakhimov, who remains on the United States Department of the Treasury's sanctions list as "one of Uzbekistan's leading criminals".

He is on the list under six different identities including the Gafur Rakhimov name in connection with his alleged links to a notorious international criminal network known as "thieves-in-law".

The Treasury has suspended Rakhimov's right and ability to make and receive any financial transactions in US dollars, while it has also granted Rakhimov's law firm, Ferrari Legal, a licence authorising it to receive the payment of legal fees and expenses reimbursement.

"These two decisions, which are public, are linked to the decision by the United States Department of the Treasury to consider you as part of or linked to two transnational criminal organisations," Zappelli writes in the letter.

"Due to this situation, I am sure you can appreciate the IOC Ethics Commission is not in a position to ignore these decisions."

The letter marks a rare example of the IOC attempting to directly influence a Presidential election at an International Federation (IF).

IOC President Thomas Bach has previously warned Gafur Rakhimov's election could lead to boxing losing its Olympic place ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach has previously warned Gafur Rakhimov's election could lead to boxing losing its Olympic place ©Getty Images

While IOC President Thomas Bach has previously warned Rakhimov's election at AIBA's Congress in Moscow in November could put boxing's place on the Tokyo 2020 programme in jeopardy, the letter from Zappelli on behalf of the Ethics Commission represents an explicit warning to the controversial official, who denies wrongdoing.

insidethegames exclusively revealed earlier this month that Asian Boxing Confederation head Serik Konakbayev will stand against Rakhimov at the election in the Russian capital.

Other candidates could emerge before next Sunday's (September 23) deadline.

Some AIBA members share the concerns of the IOC and believe Rakhimov should not permanently assume the position, while others claim he is the best candidate despite the controversy.

Rakhimov became interim President after the removal of CK Wu following a leadership coup last year.

Nominees will have to meet several criteria in order to stand for election.

This includes being able to prove to the reasonable satisfaction of the Election Committee that they have never been convicted of a criminal offence and have never been sanctioned for a violation of AIBA statues or rules.

National Federations may nominate the same person for both the vice presidency and Executive Committee, but candidates nominated for the Presidency may not also be nominated as a vice president or Executive Committee member.

Under AIBA's statutes, only officials who have been part of the Executive Committee can be nominated.

insidethegames has contacted the IOC and AIBA for comment.