Richard McLaren, the man whose forensic examination of Russian doping has led to the country being banned from competing under its own flag at major events, has been hired by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to investigate allegations of corruption during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, he announced today.
McLaren Global Sport Solutions (MGSS), the eponymous investigations agency founded by the Canadian law professor, will investigate claims of irregularities in the judging and refereeing during Rio 2016.
After completing this part of its mandate, MGSS plans to investigate the activity of the individuals involved in the management and administration of AIBA to determine if there have been acts of corruption.
These are expected to include former AIBA Presidents, Taiwan's C K Wu, who resigned in November 2017, and his successor, Uzbekistan's Gafur Rakhimov, forced out in July 2018 due to his alleged links with heroin trafficking.
It is the latest sign that AIBA President Umar Kremlev, elected last December, plans to restore the fortunes of the world governing body, which lost the right to organise the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020 due to claims of corruption and financial irregularities.
"Boxing has a long history of questionable activities,” McLaren said.
"There have been multiple past investigations into the sport that have either not been completed or acted upon.
"It is time for boxing to turn the page, but it cannot do so without a full accounting of any alleged misconduct.
"Our team will conduct an independent investigation into the questions surrounding corruption or manipulation of sporting results during the Rio Olympic Games, identify the persons responsible and recommend the appropriate course of action."
There were allegations of corruption at Rio 2016 even before the boxing tournament started.
Irish Bantamweight world champion Michael Conlan was involved in one of the most controversial contests at Rio 2016.
Having appeared to dominate a quarter-final against Vladimir Nikitin, the bout was given to the Russian, who was subsequently unable to take part in his semi-final due to the injuries inflicted by Conlan.
"Boxing was created when rules were introduced to ensure fair fights," said Kremlev.
"Any undermining of those rules is unacceptable.
"For some time, it has been clear that AIBA could do more in following up on allegations of unfairness.
"Unfortunately, in order to move to a brighter future, we must now also shine a light on AIBA’s past.
"The best way to do this is to bring in independent experts to uncover any wrongdoing so that we can learn any lessons that need to be learned and restore confidence.
"Professor McLaren has an unparalleled track record when it comes to sporting investigations and I encourage everyone in the world of boxing who may have evidence of interest to step forward and share it with McLaren and his team."
McLaren and his team have extensive experience in investigating misconduct in sport, including the 2016 investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russia and the 2020 investigation into financial fraud doping irregularities within the International Weightlifting Federation.
London-based based Harod Associates Limited, which offers investigative capabilities, forensic cyber techniques, whistleblowing, and human intelligence, will work with MGSS on the investigation.
"I wish to thank the AIBA for their confidence and trust and for giving us the freedom and support to conduct a thorough and comprehensive independent investigation,” McLaren said.
"They are looking to put some finality to the allegations that have plagued boxing for decades.
"My team has been given the independence to follow any and all leads to uncover the truth.”
A whistle-blower line will be set up, and a separate announcement will be made when it is operational.
Any individuals who come forward will be guaranteed confidentiality in perpetuity, McLaren promised.
A report on the first stage of the investigation is due to be published by the end of August.