IOC to probe London 2012 boxing fix claims

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will look into allegations that Azerbaijan was promised two gold medals at next year's London Olympics in exchange of cash and could launch its own inquiry, it said on Friday.

A report by British broadcaster BBC on Thursday alleged the International Boxing Association (AIBA) had received a loan of several million dollars from an unnamed private Azeri investor which were meant to secure Olympic success in 2012.

AIBA rejected the claims as "preposterous and untrue" but said it would launch an investigation.

"We welcome AIBA's announcement of an immediate enquiry into these claims and we await the outcome of their investigation," IOC Communication Director Mark Adams told Reuters.

"For its part the IOC takes all allegations of corruption very seriously. And we would urge the BBC to make any evidence they have available to AIBA and to our Ethics Commission which will then determine if further action is necessary," he said.

"We would also note that the judging process in boxing as in other sports at the Games are transparent and open to public scrutiny -- and a number of sports including boxing have made significant changes to their procedures in recent years to deal with any potential issues."

This is not the first time that AIBA has been at the heart of corruption allegations.

The IOC withheld more than $1.0 million of funds after the 2004 Athens Olympics following serious concerns over the scoring process in the competition and the selection of judges.

The boxing tournament in Athens was marred by several controversies that sparked anger among spectators and fans around the world.

The IOC released the funds more than two years later following the departure of long-time AIBA boss Anwar Chowdry, who had run the association for 20 years and had himself been accused of corruption, and a commitment by AIBA to overhaul judging systems and selection of judges.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Alastair Himmer)