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Judging scandal rocks boxing

Boxing officials were battling to contain major scandal on Saturday as serious claims of bribery and the manipulation of Olympic judging panels emerged after a series of disputed bouts.

other Updated: Aug 24, 2008 00:57 IST

Boxing officials were battling to contain major scandal on Saturday as serious claims of bribery and the manipulation of Olympic judging panels emerged after a series of disputed bouts.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) suspended Romanian technical delegate Rudel Obreja after he held an impromptu and rowdy press conference and made lurid allegations against senior officials.

AIBA also revealed that it had been tracking “possible attempts of manipulation” for more than two months and had brought in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) observer “when the situation became more serious”.

At a testy media conference late on Friday, AIBA technical delegate Terry Smith was grilled by journalists who questioned a series of Olympic results.

Smith insisted none of the fights was fixed although he said the scoring system, where three out of five judges need to press a button simultaneously for a point to be awarded, was under review.

“I’m quite confident that nothing has affected these bouts,” Smith said.

He denied Obreja’s suspension was a “tit-for-tat” move after the Romanian said a top official was involved in manipulating judging panels and claimed bribery was at work in AIBA presidential elections of 2006.

Obreja’s unauthorised news conference earlier ended in chaos when it was interrupted by AIBA secretary-general Ho Kim and the two traded heated remarks.

Obreja had been about to be removed from the commission overseeing the computerised refereeing draw, according to disciplinary official Tom Virgets.

Friday’s extraordinary developments accompany a series of ringside controversies which have incensed the boxers and coaches involved.

Frenchman Alexis Vastine screamed and wept after Dominican Felix Diaz was awarded a decisive two-point penalty for holding in the dying seconds of their light welterweight semi-final.

“I’ve been robbed,” said Vastine. “I didn’t know that could happen at the Olympics.”

Irish light flyweight Paddy Barnes was staggered not to be awarded a single point against Zou Shiming in the Chinese world champion’s 15-0 victory.

“The only way I could win here is if the judges got knocked out,” he complained.

The Algerian camp had also claimed Ouatah Newfel was unfairly eliminated from the super heavyweight quarterfinals to smooth the path of China’s Zhang Zhilei.