Boxing investigation finds at least seven suspicious results at Rio Olympics
"That’s me. I’ll never box for AIBA again. They’re cheating bastards!"
Michael Conlan stood ring-side in Rio, back in 2016, and let rip.
The Belfast boxer had arrived in Brazil tipped to bring home another Olympic medal for Ireland. He had won silver at London 2012 and was looking to go one better in Rio.
He faced Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter final and was denied even a bronze after somehow ending up on the wrong side of a unanimous points decision. Conlan outfought, outthought and outboxed his opponent, but was robbed of the chance to add to his European, Commonwealth and World titles.
After sticking up both middle fingers and ripping off his singlet, Conlan stormed from the ring then unloaded some hard words, live on RTÉ:
"Yeah, AIBA are cheats. They’re f***ing cheats. That’s me. I’ll never box for AIBA again. They’re cheating bastards who are paying everybody. I don’t give a f*** if I’m cursing on TV. That here is the Olympic gold. My dreams have been shattered now. Do you know what? I’ve a big career ahead of me. And these ones? They’re known for being cheats and they’ll always be cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top."
Coming the day after Katie Taylor had also been controversially eliminated from the games, Irish fans were fuming. Conlan was fined for his comments, but talk soon emerged of an investigation into several top AIBA judges.
FIVE YEARS later [bold, capital letters used on purpose!], the results of an extensive investigation into the boxing judges at Rio 2016 are set to be released.
Led by Professor Richard McClaren, the full report is to be circulated on Thursday and it is expected to state that 'seven to 10 fights' they investigated were "suspicious". One of those fights is believed to be Conlan vs. Nikitin, according to The Guardian.
The investigative report was sought after threats that the Aiba could be kicked out of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, which would throw amateur boxing into chaos.
Prof. McClaren is set to hold a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday to reveal details of the first stage of his investigation into amateur boxing. Irish boxing supporters will be following events closely.
There may be some form of justice for one or two, or even three, Irish boxers yet.