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Several Rio Boxing Judges Removed After Disputed Tishchenko Decision

  • RFE/RL

Russia's Yevgeny Tishchenko (R) and Kazakhstan's Vassiliy Levit during an Olympic match which Tishchenko won in a disputed decision.

Russia's Yevgeny Tishchenko (R) and Kazakhstan's Vassiliy Levit during an Olympic match which Tishchenko won in a disputed decision.

The International Boxing Association removed several judges from the Rio Olympics on August 17, saying they had not met the organization's standards of competence.

The association declined to provide the judges' names or the fights they judged, but said the results of all bouts will stand.

The governing body said its judging committee reviewed all 239 bouts from the first 11 days of the Olympic tournament. The committee determined that "less than a handful of the decisions were not at the level expected."

The banished judges apparently didn't include participants in the two most prominent disputed decisions, however.

Russian heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko's victory over Kazakh champion Vassiliy Levit sparked a wide public outcry over the decision, which rewarded Tishchenko's retreat over Levit's power and excitement.

Also, Irish bantamweight world champion Michael Conlan complained loudly after his quarterfinal loss to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin, accusing the judges and Russia of wholesale corruption.

Boxing association executive Tom Virgets told AP that the Tischenko fight may be a catalyst for changes in the organization's judging criteria.

However, AP reported that judges from both hotly disputed bouts continued to participate in Rio boxing matches on August 17.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams called the boxing association's decision "a very professional response" to concerns about judging in Rio.

But U.S. boxing coach Billy Walsh said the judging at the games was the worst he'd seen since the notorious 1988 Roy Jones Jr. scandal.

"I haven't seen it as bad since then," he said noting that judges can be "very, very subjective... Some days the aggressor wins. The next day, the counterpuncher wins. Each five judges have a different set of criteria. They can emphasize whatever they want."

Walsh suggested that the Olympics may need to go back to a computerized system of judging.

He said he was glad that U.S. boxer Claressa Shields did not suffer from bad judging in her fight with Russia's Iaroslava Iakushina on August 16, in which Shields won the gold medal and retained the Olympic middleweight champion title.

Iakushina was rewarded with the silver medal.

Shields said she was worried before the fight because earlier decisions appeared to go against the favored boxers, especially those fighting Russians.

"I'm not a judge, but the fact I've seen some pretty bad judging yesterday, especially people going against Russia, it did give me a little scare," she said. "But the judges can't be God."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP