November 6, 2021
Boxing body uses AI vetting of judges to restore trust
Seeking to restore trust in its bouts, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) used an artificial intelligence system to analyze judges and referees before they could work at the current men's world championships.
Two officials were removed after being questioned by the automated voice analysis system, said AIBA integrity advisor Richard McLaren, who added that the system was not the same as a lie detector.
"It measures the cognitive functions of the brain in the verbal responses," McLaren said at a news conference, adding judges were graded as low, medium or high risk.
McLaren said the AI project "clearly identifies problems" if used as part of a wider program of pre-competition vetting, follow-up interviews and "a human assessment" about the suitability of officials.
AIBA is trying to re-establish credibility under new leadership, which was not running the sport at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro OIympics when long-standing claims of corrupt judging were raised again by boxers.
The International Olympic Committee—whose long-time member C.K. Wu led AIBA at Rio—has been skeptical of the governing body's promised anti-corruption reforms and stripped it of any involvement in the Tokyo Games.
The dispute between the IOC and AIBA continues with boxing's place at the 2024 Paris Olympics at risk.
AIBA aimed to stage a clean men's world championships in Belgrade and brought American boxing great Roy Jones Jr—the loser in an infamous judging decision against a South Korean opponent at the 1988 Seoul Olympics—to support its work Friday.
"It would have been very beautiful to have this (AI) technology at that time," Jones Jr said in Belgrade. "Better late than never."
McLaren suggested the AI tool could help AIBA "to put their house in order," and be used by other Olympic sports that rely on judges to decide event results.
"Yes, it is a blueprint," he said. "I think the technology has incredible potential."
AIBA's president Umar Kremlev said it had "acknowledged the problems of the past," which included asking McLaren to investigate and confirm there were likely corrupt bouts in Rio.
"We have brought in independent experts to help guide us and now we must boldly embrace the future," the Russian official said in a statement.
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