Team Uganda officials were on Friday left stunned after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) told them they had no jurisdiction to mediate in the case involving Michael Ssekabembe and world boxing governing body, AIBA.
The Ugandan officials had run to CAS seeking its intervention after gold medal hopeful Ssekabembe had been blocked from fighting Englishman Joyce Joseph in the super heavyweight semifinals.
An AIBA doctor ruled that Ssekabembe had a fracture in his fist and couldn’t be allowed in the ring.
The pugilist, dismayed by the doctor’s revelation, said he just had a minor swelling and wondered why he was being blocked at that crucial moment. Uganda protested the AIBA stance and did a scan which revealed no fracture and immediately rushed to CAS with what they believed was overwhelming evidence.
“After learning about the incident, we got lawyer and rushed to the court confident the AIBA decision would be reversed. But after waiting at the court for over seven hours, they informed us they didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. We were instead told to appeal to AIBA,” Uganda’s chef de mission Ambrose Tashobya said.
“It is so frustrating that some respectable officials are behaving like this. It is so sad for the Games.” Uganda’s team doctor Ronnie Kaddu revealed he had assessed Ssekabembe and there was no reason to deny him a chance to fight for a place in the final. Joyce got a walkover victory.
Ssekabembe produced a stunning performance in the quarterfinals where he demolished Ghanaian Haruna Osumanu. He has been left inconsolable by the incident.
“I don’t know what to say. I am just too devastated,” the UPDF boxer said.
He will now return home with a bronze just like teammate Fazil Juma Kaggwa, who failed to pull off an upset against Paddy Barnes of Ireland in the light flyweight (49kg) semifinal.
Dr Abdellah Bessalem, the AIBA vice-president in charge of Africa, who mediated in Uganda’s boxing administrative wrangles a few years ago and seemed to take sides with former embattled president Roger Ddungu, is the tournament supervisor here.