Azerbaijan furious over boxing 'bribes'
The world boxing championships were set to open in Baku on Monday amid official fury at claims that multi-million dollar bribes were paid to ensure gold medals for Azerbaijani fighters at the 2012 Olympics.
The ex-Soviet state's powerful emergency situations minister, who also heads Azerbaijan's boxing federation, told local media on the eve of the tournament that the corruption allegations raised in a BBC television program were lies.
"It is wrong to disseminate news basedon false information to the international community and the people who organised it must be held responsible," Kamaladdin Heydarov told the apasport.az website.
An investigation by BBC's Newsnight program alleged that $9 million was paid by an Azerbaijani national to organisers of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA)'s World Series of Boxing (WSB).
The money was allegedly paid to secure gold medals for Azerbaijani fighters competing at next year's Olympics.
But Heydarov said that the claims could easily be disproved.
"AIBA and Azerbaijan's boxing federation have the facts to prove the defamatory nature of this information," he said.
AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo has also rejected the allegations as "totally untrue and ludicrous" but confirmed that the organisation would launch an investigation.
"I will immediately conduct an investigation into this because there is a zero-tolerance policy in AIBA," Wu said last week.
Olympic boxing has long battled allegations of corruption and questions over its scoring system.
The world championships, the first Olympic qualifying event for boxing, are being seen as a major event in Azerbaijan, an energy-rich state seeking to boost its international profile.
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