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Sports Minister accords red carpet to SL Boxing Chief Dian Gomes

Sports Minister accords red carpet to SL Boxing Chief Dian Gomes

2 days ago | By Marlon Dale Ferreira

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In a rather predictable manner, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe and his appointed seven-member panel headed by Justice Chandra Jayatillaka, has cleared the path for President Dian Gomes and his subordinates of the Sri Lanka Amateur Boxing Association to freely go ahead and conduct their scheduled Annual General Meeting on 28 May 2023, as a petition containing a plethora of allegations filed by eight people was postponed yet again.

The petition with over twenty witnesses, including boxers, coaches, referees, judges, and international technical officers, who are prepared to provide evidence was rescheduled yet again and now will be scheduled to be held somewhere in the first half of June 2023.

One of the petitioners speaking to The Daily Morning Sports on condition of anonymity said: “This all seems a joke. Minister of Sports Roshan Ranasinghe has clearly demonstrated two things. One, he is inconsistent when conducting and dealing with petitions filed against sports bodies and secondly exposing clear favouritism towards the respondents, the SLABA President Dian Gomes and his subordinates.”

The petitioner's words echoed the sentiments as to how the Minister of Sports Roshan Ranasinghe was swift to issue a government gazette notification a few weeks back and suspend the membership of Sri Lanka Rugby, despite not providing a show cause notice to SLR no sooner he received certain similar petitions. 

The petitioner also explained how badly they were treated when their postponed hearing was called up yesterday 24 May 2023.

“Four of the petitioners arrived well before the scheduled time of the meeting which was 3.30 p.m. They were then told that the meeting will be delayed till 4.30 p.m. However when they went back around 4.15 p.m., Dian Gomes was standing outside the door with his legal team. They were taken in first and within 5 to 10 minutes they left. We were called in next and then informed by the inquiring panel that they wanted us to provide more details pertaining to our petition and that they would reconvene the inquiry in the month June 2023. When we informed them that one of the purposes of filing the petition was to prevent the SLABA President and his Executive Committee from bringing about and approving certain changes at the upcoming SLABA  AGM, we were told that the appointed seven member panel had no powers to stop the AGM from taking place. The Minister of Sports will have to make that call.” the petitioner explained further.

The Morning Sports reliably understands that the petitioners had initially sent in their petition to the Ministry of Sports over three months ago. 

Whilst confirming this, the petitioner said: “We were sent from pillar to post and after three months no action was taken regarding our petition. We then paid the Rs. 50,000 fee and finally a panel was appointed by the Minister Ranasinghe to commence investigating our claims. But it all seems like one big farce now.”

Meanwhile a writer using the pseudonym “Ringside Observer” sent in a report which was published in our newspaper The Daily Morning on 24 May 2023, under the section Letters/Sports and titled “Can Dian Gomes knock-out corruption in the BRJA before he steps down?”

The published story, with the newspaper publishing a disclaimer and taking no responsibility, goes on to sing hosannas and praises to Dian Gomes the President of the SLABA, whilst discrediting the Boxing Referees and Judges Association. 

(Rtd) Lt Col. Hemantha Weerasinghe, a Vice President of current BASL and an official of the International Boxing Association is quoted in the article saying: ”Officials clamor to be part of the BASL or BRJA for the sole purpose of money and free foreign trips.” 

He was quoted further stating: “This is a rogue association formed by a group of local Referees and Judges.”

However, the following paragraph published by the Ringside Observer is a strong possible reason as to why the Minister of Sports Ranasinghe was according special privileges to the SLABA. 

“At the non-elective annual general meeting to be held on 28 May, the BASL plans to amend the constitution to comply with the new national sports law, Olympic Committee direction and to comply with the revised IBA regulations. These tough laws and processes demanded by the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are to safeguard athletes and maintain the integrity of sports.”

However, there also appeared to be some gaps in Ringside Observer's published story. 

Perhaps purposeful omissions, such as the sexual (mental) allegation case filed against the SLABA President Dian Gomes, which was taken up by officials a couple of days ago and also the SLABA's appointment of Udeni Talik Bandara Kiridena as a boxing selection committee member, who incidentally was suspended by the IOC and thereafter banned from officiating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This was after Kiridena was also named as part of the 36 officials in the Mclaren Independent Report that conducted an investigation into boxing competitions prior to and during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games.The report stated that Kiridena's judging was not up to the required Olympic standard. The report also mentioned that he was involved in the largest proportion of split bouts at the European Olympic qualifier. 

Nevertheless, what's alarming to note in this published article and especially the quote provided Lt Col. Hemantha Weerasinghe, is the perfect timing in basing these allegations against the very team of petitioners by one of the respondents himself, when the inquiry is yet to even begin. 

The Daily Morning Sports contacted National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka President Suresh Subramaniam, as the NOCSL was quoted by Lt Col. Hemantha Weerasinghe in the published article by the writer Ringside Observer. 

Subramaniam said: “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned the International Boxing Association (IBA) and therefore the NOCSL does not recognize the SLABA. We have no dealings whatsoever with the SLABA. However we are obliged to ensure that the athletes (boxers) and officials, such as coaches, trainers, referees and judges are not penalized, whilst we continue to respect and follow the Olympic Charter at all times.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.

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