The US and Ireland are set to boycott this year's IBA World Championships due to governance concerns under Umar Kremlev ©Getty Images

The International Boxing Association (IBA) has offered a critique of a planned boycott of the Women's and Men's Boxing World Championships by the United States and Ireland, vowing to "pursue strong sanctions against those who initiate and join it".

It has also vowed to support boxers who wish to compete regardless of the boycott.

"The athletes, coaches and officials from a country shall not be liable for any conduct of the management of their national federations or any political games," the IBA said.

"IBA condemns all political games which damages the sport.

"IBA invites USA and Irish teams to come to the World Championships and participate under their flags and anthems.

"IBA will cover all necessary expenses from the funds of the FSP [financial support programme] Program (sic).

"IBA will strongly react on further similar conduct in breach of the IBA Disciplinary and Ethics Code, and will pursue strong sanctions against those who initiate and join the participation boycott."

USA Boxing was the first national governing body to pull out of the Women's Championships in New Delhi and Men's Championships in Tashkent, and was followed yesterday by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA).

IBA, formerly AIBA, has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2019, but relations have hit an all-time blow, meaning boxing has been left off the initial Los Angeles 2028 programme and could still be dropped from Paris 2024.

USA Boxing took its decision to boycott the IBA's flagship events because of governance concerns, financial irregularities and a lack of transparency, as well as the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their own flags.

The IABA expressed similar issues for its decision, and its stance has been backed by Irish Sports Minister Thomas Byrne.

"I am sure the decision is disappointing to our Irish boxers but it is the right one, given concerns re IBA practices," he wrote on Twitter.

The IBA has said it will seek an investigation of USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee's statement in announcing a boycott of IBA events ©IBA
The IBA has said it will seek an investigation of USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee's statement in announcing a boycott of IBA events ©IBA

Kremlev yesterday claimed that officials who voted for a boycott are "worse than hyenas and jackals", and the IBA has requested the McLaren Independent Investigation Team investigate the statement of its executive director Mike McAtee and the IABA leadership.

It has disputed several of the arguments made by USA Boxing, insisting "a Moscow office of the IBA does not or has never existed" in response to claims that the role of the Presidential office in the Russian capital had increased.

USA Boxing also argued that the IBA had failed to "address the drastic change of culture requested by the IOC" and cited Kremlev's comments that "not a single boxer, coach or National Federation will be participating in the Olympic Games without IBA".

The IBA referenced a report from August last year by the former Governance Reform Group led by Ulrich Haas which said good governance "grows over time" and "needs to be constantly evaluated and nurtured through continuous training and refreshing of the leadership".

Defending oversight of the field of play, the IBA claimed this had "seen continuous improvements since 2021", including the use of artificial intelligence assessments with follow-up interviews.

Responding to USA Boxing's concerns over a sponsorship deal with Russian majority-state owned energy giant Gazprom, the renewal of which prompted a warning from the IOC that boxing could be dropped altogether from Paris 2024.

The IBA accused former officials of
The IBA accused former officials of "sabotage and resistance" responding to USA Boxing's concerns over the resignation of the Audit and Ethics Committees prior to the Congress in the UAE ©IBA

The IBA claimed that its sponsorship deal with Gazprom expired at the end of last year, but "nothing legally prevents IBA to cooperate with Gazprom".

Despite this, Gazprom is still listed as a general partner on the IBA website.

USA Boxing additionally referenced a resignation of the IBA Audit and Financial Committees prior to the Ordinary Congress in the United Arab Emirates, to which the IBA accused several persons including former employees and Committee members of "sabotage and resistance" and said it is "in the process to hire professional experts" to both Committees.

Finally, the IBA defended its stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes being able to participate without restrictions, insisting "athletes cannot be responsible for the conduct of the politics from their countries".

insidethegames has asked USA Boxing for a response to the IBA statement.

The US and Ireland are members of the Common Cause Alliance led by Dutch official Boris van der Vorst, who challenged Russian incumbent Umar Kremlev for the Presidency last year.

He was incorrectly declared ineligible by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit at May's elections in Istanbul before delegates voted against staging a fresh election in Yerevan in September, despite a successful Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal.

The Women's Boxing World Championships are scheduled for March 15 to 26 in New Delhi, followed by the Men's World Championships in Tashkent from May 1 to 14.