IT was perhaps inevitable that a controversy would occur at the AIBA World championships in Russia. Despite, initially, winning his quarter-final at the Expo Arena in Ekaterinburg on Wednesday (September 18), Frazer Clarke has in effect been stripped of a medal at the World championships and denied a place in Friday’s semi-finals.
After the Russian Federation filed a protest, the judges’ decision to award Britain’s Frazer Clarke a split decision was overturned and his quarter-final opponent, Russia’s Maksim Babanin has been installed in the semi-finals instead.
The bout was close but it wasn’t an outrageous decision in the Englishman’s favour and wouldn’t have been considered ‘a robbery’ as such. It might have gone the other way but what is a shock is that it has been changed retrospectively. This is new. AIBA have introduced a new appeals process, which had not been available at the last Olympic Games.
The Russian Boxing Federation lodged a protest, which went before a bout review jury which appears to have decided that based on the scoring of third and final round the split decision should have been reversed and given to Russia’s Babanin instead. England Boxing, Frazer Clarke’s national federation, asked for an explanation as to how they reached they reached this conclusion. They were told: “The decision of bout review jury is to overturn the original decision based on review of the third round and applying the AIBA scoring criteria.”
There is no formal process in AIBA’s rules to ‘counter-appeal’ as such a successful protest.
In years gone by results have been overturned, although those rulings had been attributed to refereeing error and therefore AIBA could have a result changed thanks to point deductions from warnings that should have been administered. (The theory previously was that refereeing could be objective, while in contrast judging a contest is inherently subjective.) This instance though would be the first time a judge’s score has been rewritten.
This new protest system was not intended to allow teams to try to have close decisions rescored.
A spokesperson for GB Boxing said: “We are absolutely devastated for Frazer that a decision has been made to overturn the result of his quarter-final contest with the Russian boxer.
“For him to come to his first World championships and defeat the Russian in front of his home nation crowd was a superb performance. To then have both the result and the medal he deservedly achieved taken away from him in these circumstances is a cruel blow and an outcome that has left the whole team bitterly disappointed and dismayed. We will be seeking clarity on the rationale for the decision of the bout review jury.”
Controversial officiating has been amongst the host of problems that have seen AIBA suspended from administering the next Olympic Games. A Task Force set up by the International Olympic Committee will handle the qualification events next year as well as the boxing at Tokyo 2020.