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Michael Conlan feels vindicated after report finds Rio Olympic corruption

Michael Conlan says an independent investigation that found that ‘an informal bout manipulation system existed’ in amateur boxing at the Rio 2016 Olympics offers “vindication”.

The findings of the stage one report of the investigation, which was commissioned by the AIBA and was fronted up by Richard McLaren, were published at a press conference in Lausanne today.

The report revealed ‘an informal bout manipulation system’ existed and confirmed the Belfast fighter’s medal bout with Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin among those deemed “suspicious”.

In fact that bantamweight quarter-final was cited as one of two bouts that were “the catalyst for the house of cards to come crashing down” in terms of the negative publicity and subsequent action regarding the officiating of boxing in Rio.

“We have confirmed that a bout manipulation system by officials existed at Rio,” McLaren said at Thursday’s press conference.

“The seeds of that system were sown years before, starting from at least the Olympic Games of the 21st Century through the events around 2011 and London 2012.”

Conlan, whose reaction to the defeat has become and thing of boxing folklore, has cheekily called for his medal to be sent in the post online and revealed his delight at the findings when speaking to the BBC.

“It’s been a long time coming but I’m delighted,” said the Belfast boxer.

“I didn’t expect this to happen but the fact that it has and my fight has been called out, it’s not news to me but it’s good news,” added Conlan who went into Rio as world champion and a the gold medal favourite.

“It’s a massive day for amateur boxing and for Olympic sport. The black mark of Rio will always sit there and the thought of ‘what could have been’ will always be there for me.”

It’s a mature reaction from the fighter who inflicted such a beating on Nikitin, a fighter he has since defeated in the pros, the Russian was unable to compete in the semi final.

However, he admits there will always be an element of what if.

“I think if I hadn’t said what I said and done what I did this probably wouldn’t be happening now so it’s a huge day, especially for the guys who suffered in Rio, including myself. It’s vindication,” argued the 29-year-old.

“At the same time it stole a dream that I had since I was a kid of being an Olympic champion. That ‘what if’ will always be there.

“I just hope now the decisions can be overturned because I wasn’t the only one. I’d be more than happy to receive an Olympic medal and that would be a bit of justice in itself.

“I’d love that to happen, to be upgraded and get a medal. Even if I don’t get a medal if they said I was number three at the Games that would be good.”

“At the same time I wouldn’t want to see the guys who benefitted because of the corruption lose out because it wasn’t their fault.

“What I did in Rio has changed Olympic boxing for good because it has resulted in this report. It resulted in the AIBA being kicked out of the Tokyo Olympics and I don’t think that has ever been done.”

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: