Quebec boxer and Canadian Olympic hopeful Ariane Fortin accused Boxing Canada of bias Monday night during an interview on Radio-Canada.
Fortin lost the 75-kg Canadian championship to her friend Mary Spencer of Windsor, Ont. on Friday night.
The accusation of bias shocked Spencer. The two grew up together on the international boxing circuit. They are friends and former roommates.
"It's hard to score a point and win when you have judges who fixed the result in advance and when you work against the [boxing] federation," Fortin told Radio-Canada in French.
Fortin also said in French that Spencer receives preferential treatment in the English media because she is from Ontario.
"Normally it would probably bother me that an opponent was saying something like that or thought that. But to be honest, I have no idea what Ariane is going through right now," Spencer said. "I know she must be devastated and this is how she’s dealing with it. I respect that if that’s how she feels. That’s fine."
Fortin's accusations surround the third round, during which Spencer overcame a one-point deficit and increased her lead to an insurmountable six, 15-9.
Spencer said she won the round — and the fight — fair and square. The crowd in Glace Bay was split.
"Her fans want to see her win and my fans want to see me win," Spencer said.
"At that level of boxing there are politics and you cannot deny it," Fortin told Radio-Canada in French.
Boxing Canada executive director Rob Crete said Fortin did appeal the decision "based on bias" but officials reviewed the fight and concluded there "was no evidence of bias."
Crete called Fortin a fantastic athlete and said she is simply upset with the end result.
"She wanted to go to the Olympics and she's frustrated," Crete said.
Despite being separated by a weight class since they were rookie women boxers in 2004, the two became sparring partners and Olympic hopefuls almost immediately.
"We just came on the scene and starting winning tournament after tournament. Six years later we were both two-time world champions and really close friends," Spencer said. "We were good friends at one point and I hope we mend that friendship but on her terms."
Both had equal opportunity to qualify for the Olympics when it was first announced women's boxing would be added to the Games in 2012. But Olympic officials trimmed the number of weight divisions from five to three, ultimately forcing the friends to fight and qualify in the same weight class.
Spencer has now won four consecutive fights with Fortin.
"You can go out and spar with a friend and punch a friend in the face, it’s not a big deal. But the fact only one of us would go to the Olympics and be a gold-medal favourite and the other one would stay home, that was a big deal," Spencer said. "I think it’s awful that someone with her skills has to stay home and isn’t able to go the Olympics."
Fortin told Radio-Canada she now intends to find a country other than Canada to represent at the 2012 London Games.
Crete said Boxing Canada would sign a release to allow her to do so if Fortin can find a country to represent.
Spencer, meanwhile, will fight at the world championships in China in May. If she finishes in the top eight, among the approximately 50 hopefuls there, she will qualify for the Games.
"There are going to be a lot of people gunning for me," Spencer said. "They’re all very dangerous because I’m the champion, because they’re gunning for me."
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