LONDON (The Blaze/AP) — A boxing referee from Turkmenistan was expelled from the London Olympics on Thursday for his handling of a bout in which the result was overturned on appeal.
Boxing’s governing federation, known as AIBA, released a statement saying referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov “is on his way back home.”
The federation also suspended German referee Frank Scharmach five days for his decision to disqualify an Iranian heavyweight, and expelled technical official Aghajan Abiyev of Azerbaijan.
“I deeply regret that we had to take these decisions,” AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo said. “However, our main concern has been and will always be the protection of the integrity and fair play of our competitions. I will take all possible steps to reinforce this.”
Both sanctioned referees made unusual decisions during Wednesday night’s card.
In a bantamweight bout, Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan fell to the canvas six times in the third round against Satoshi Shimizu of Japan, yet still won a 22-17 decision.
Meretnyyazov allowed the fight to continue after each tumble, and he enraged the Japanese team by fixing the headgear worn by Abdulhamidov, who had to be helped from the ring after winning.
In fact, the CNBC announcers were so disgusted regarding the bout and its decision that they questioned the integrity of the sport:
AIBA overturned the result late Wednesday night, saying Meretnyyazov should have counted at least three knockdowns and stopped the bout.
But the sports website Deadspin suggests there was sinister intent and points to history:
Last September, BBC Newsnight presented evidence that Azerbaijan had paid millions of dollars in an international boxing organization, in return for a guarantee that two Azerbaijanis would win gold medals at these London Olympics. They found documents showing a $9 million bank transfer, funneled through Switzerland, to a boxing organization owned by AIBA, which oversees Olympic boxing. Whistleblowers reported that the money came from an Azerbaijan government minister, and were strictly a cash-for-medals exchange.
Azerbaijan denied the allegations, and an AIBA committee found them groundless. (The $9M was deemed to be a “purely commercial investment.”) But here we are! Azerbaijan’s Abdulhamidov was awarded a win he didn’t come close to earning.
The Japanese appealed and won, and the AIBA explains why:
After reviewing the video of Bout #105 involving Bantamweights Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) and Magomed Abdulhamidov (Azerbaijan), the Competition Jury made the following decision:
- The boxer from Azerbaijan fell down six (6) times during the 3rd round. According to our rules, the Referee should have counted at least three (3) times. In this case, following the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules, the decision should have been RSC (Referee Stop Contest);
- Therefore the protest lodged by the Japanese corner is accepted and the result of this bout overturned.
Iranian heavyweight Ali Mazaheri was disqualified in his bout with Cuba’s Jose Larduet after several warnings for holding from Scharmach, who finally waved off the fight midway through the second round.
The stoppage seemed quick to the booing crowd, and Mazaheri, who stood with his arms outstretched and eventually left the ring without shaking hands with Larduet or Scharmach. Mazaheri claimed the result was “a fix” and “a setup.”
Scharmach is suspended through Tuesday’s Olympic fights, but the disqualification stands.
The federation did not specify what Abiyev had done to earn expulsion, saying only that he had committed “a number of breaches” of its code of conduct.
International technical officials aren’t referees or judges, but perform numerous duties around the ring during competition regarding everything from the draw to medical rulings and equipment management.