Six key points from the McLaren Olympic boxing investigation

Richard McLaren’s report details bribes made to fix Olympic fights, an official threatened in his hotel room, and a thwarted cash-for-medals deal

1) Corruption took place at the 2016 Olympic boxing tournament

McLaren said he was now investigating 11 suspicious bouts that were likely corrupted as part of a “bout manipulation” scheme, which involved judges deciding beforehand who would win certain fights. Bouts under suspicion, he said, include controversial defeats suffered by Britain’s Joe Joyce and Ireland’s Michael Conlan. A bribe of up to $250,000 was also offered to fix the outcome of the lightweight semi-final between Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia and Sofiane Oumiha of France, McLaren said, although no eventually bribe was paid and the Mongolian boxer lost with “very unusual scoring”.

2) Officials who didn’t agree to cheat were weeded out

McLaren says there was “a culture of fear, intimidation and obedience” among judges before the 2016 Rio Olympics – and that those who were honest paid the price. “It was a complete reversal of Santa Claus’s myth of the naughty and the nice,” he writes. “The naughty were gifted an appointment at Rio because they were willing, or under pressure to support any request for manipulation, while the nice were left out.”

3) Some judges who didn’t fall in line were also threatened

In one case, McLaren says a senior judge entered the room late of an honest official late at night using a set of room keys obtained from the front desk. That official was then warned that as a result of the way the bouts were being scored, “it wouldn’t bode well for the witness’s future”. The witness recalled: “I was scared shitless … because I’ve got people coming into my room, like bursting into my room and telling me what I’m doing wrong.”

Prof Richard McLaren addresses a virtual press conference in Lausanne to announce the results of the first phase of his investigation into possible irregularities during the 2016 Rio boxing competition
Prof Richard McLaren at a virtual press conference in Lausanne to announce the results of the first phase of his investigation into irregularities at Rio 2016. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

4) Attempted bout manipulation also took place before and during the London 2012 Olympics

One example McLaren cites is a meeting between the then Aiba president, Wu Ching‑kuo, and the Turkish authorities in April 2012. “Following these meetings … the executive director was instructed to ensure that Turkey would have some boxers qualified for the Games,” writes McLaren. “The president’s rationale was that the Turkish Boxing Federation had spent millions to host the event. It would be humiliating to the TBF President if none of their boxers qualified.” Adds McClaren: “The President wanted the Turkish boxers to benefit from qualification to the Games. He ought to have known this gesture of goodwill was corruption.”

5) A cash-for-medals scheme at London 2012 was thwarted by a BBC story

“In 2010 Azerbaijan gave Aiba a $10m investment loan,” writes McLaren, noting that not only did referees and judges feel pressure to give the country’s boxers more decisions but the “manipulation stemming from the Azeri loan trickled into the London Games”. However, just before the Games, the BBC carried a story about medals for money – which led to Wu making an executive order to ensure Azerbaijan did not win any medals. “The fear for CK Wu was that if the Azeris had won it would have proved the documentary’s allegations of corruption correct,” says McLaren. “Therefore, a reverse manipulation had to take place to ensure they did not win any medals for public perception. The Azeris felt betrayed.”

6) An English official is named in McLaren’s report

Mik Basi, who took the Olympic Oath at London 2012 on behalf of officials and was awarded an MBE in 2019, is cited 24 times by McLaren, who calls him one of the “ringleaders” in the bout manipulation scheme. Among numerous allegations against Basi, McLaren raises a concern that Basi assisted the executive director, Karim Bouzidi, in picking the referees and judges for the Rio Olympics, according to a confidential witness.

Basi, who spoke to McLaren’s team as part of the investigation, was unable to be reached by the Guardian. However his brother Jumbo Basi, who is also a boxing official, said: “This is absolutely ridiculous, it is not possible,” when asked for his response to the allegations in McLaren’s report.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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