SEPTEMBER 13 - IRISH boxer Kenny Egan (pictured) should have been awarded an Olympic gold medal in Beijing last month but the judges were influenced by the Chinese crowd, the president of the European Olympic Committee (EOC) claimed today.
The comments by Pat Hickey, who is also the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), will be embarrassing to AIBA, the world amateur boxing governing body, who have suffered a series of judging scandals at the Games for more than 20 years.
They are one of the sports that could be under threat when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes at its session in Copenhagen in October 2009 to decide whether to cut for the 2016 Games any of the current 26 sports on the programme.
Egan had to settle for the silver in Beijing after losing 11-7 to the home fighter Xiaoping Zhang in the final of the light-heavyweight division.
But Hickey, who was in the stadium to watch the fight, told former Irish international footballer Eamonn Dunphy on his radio show broadcast on RTE Radio 1 today that he thinks Egan should have been declared the winner by the judges.
He said: "Kenny Egan was robbed.
"The hall was full of 16,000 Chinese, screaming and shouting and these judges on the computers - they're human beings, they're influenced.
"But I thought to myself, Kenny Egan was the winner of that fight."
Hickey's comments coincided with the news that two-time Olympic gold medalist Steven Lopez and USA Taekwondo are to file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne regarding the failure of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to provide, what they claim, was fair and proper judging in Beijing.
Taekwondo is another sport facing the real threat of being kicked off the Olympic programme for 2016, although its position is safe for London 2012 when WTF officials have claimed they will introduce new equipment to make the scoring and judging more transparent and fairer.
Lopez, who won a bronze medal after losing his first bout in six years in the wake of a referee’s disputed decision in a second-round match, said the appeal is not designed to overturn the outcome but to call attention to problems with the Korean-dominated governing body for international taekwondo.
Lopez said: “The most important thing is to hold the WTF responsible.
"I don’t intend to change anything with the medals.
"I’m happy with the bronze medal.
"But we want to stand by what we believe is right and for the Court to look at what we feel was done wrong by the officials and referees.”
Lopez lost to Italy's Mario Sarmiento of Italy, the eventual silver medalist in the welterweight division, after losing a point through accrued penalties because of what US officials claim was an incorrect rules application by referee Oh Il Nam of Indonesia.
The appeal to CAS will claim that the WTF failed to follow its own rules by refusing to examine video of the match after Lopez and USA Taekwondo filed a protest alleging that the referee’s decision was incorrect.
Lopez said: “They didn’t bother examining the evidence, and that’s wrong.
"They could have looked and said we don’t agree with you and that we stand by the judges after reviewing the tapes, but they didn’t even do that.”
The Lopez case was one of several disputed outcomes at the Olympic taekwondo tournament.
In another protest in the wake of the Lopez controversy, officials overturned a victory by Zhong Chen of China and awarded the match to Britain's Sarah Stevenson.
It came after judges failed to register high-kick to the head of Chen which would have given the Doncaster competitor two points when she was down 1-0 in the closing third round.
Also, 2000 gold medalist Angel Matos of Cuba kicked a referee in the face after the official failed to follow the sport’s rules governing injury timeouts and disqualified him from the bronze medal match in the heavyweight division.
Jean Lopez, Steve's older brother and coach of the US team, said: “We want to help develop procedures to deal with protests.
"The only way to make changes in the sport is to give this the attention that it deserves.
"We need to get it on the record that they [the WTF] messed up.”