In a massive jolt to boxing in India, the International Boxing Association has suspended the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) alleging "possible manipulation" in its recent elections but the body has denied the charge, insisting that the process was "transparent".
The development which has left the IABF "stunned" comes within a few days of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspending the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
"Further to the International Olympic Committee's suspension imposed on the Indian Olympic Association, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Executive Committee Bureau has decided on Friday December 6 to provisionally suspend the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF)," the AIBA said in a statement.
"This provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF's election.
"AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA president, as former chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election," it added.
During the September elections, outgoing president Abhay Singh Chautala, who was elected IOA president despite IOC's suspension, was retained in the body as nominated chairman of the body.
The development now also puts a question mark over Chautala's election as IOA President since he came into the fray as an IABF representative. Interestingly, his brother-in-law and BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Abhishek Matoria, was elected as the new IABF president.
Stunned by the suspension, Matoria said that the world body had been apprised of the election process in detail.
"AIBA had specific queries about the election process and we had explained to them that there was no manipulation. Those who got elected were unanimous choices and just because there was unanimity, the AIBA cannot allege manipulation," Matoria told PTI.
"This is a provisional suspension and I am sure it would be lifted soon after we explain our stand to AIBA. If need be, I will personally go and speak to AIBA officials in Lausanne," Matoria said.
"Our boxers are not threatened by any repercussions for the time being because the next major AIBA event is quite far and the matter will be resolved by then," he added.
The next AIBA event is the Junior World Championships in August 2013, followed by the senior World Championships in October.
A senior IABF functionary told PTI that there might be a re-election.
"Let's wait and see. Maybe there would have to be a re-election in a proper manner with AIBA Observer being present," he said.
In the September IABF elections, the body had been left in a fix after the sports ministry barred it from making constitutional changes that could have facilitated continuation of the incumbent set of office-bearers.
Meanwhile, the AIBA's decision came as a bolt from the blue for the boxers, many of whom are in the national camp in Patiala.
"It is a sad day for Indian boxing and I can't understand how such a development can take place. I don't understand why the matter was not explained to AIBA," India's first Olympic medallist in the sport, Vijender Singh, said.
The Beijing Olympics bronze-medallist was, however, hopeful that the issue would be resolved soon.
"The next AIBA event is quite far but hopefully we would not sit on it for too long and get the suspension revoked as soon as possible," he said.