The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has experienced a string of hurdles recently regarding governance reform, which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made clear they expect from the organization. On Jan. 29, 2021, the Executive Board of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) released a statement to voice their disappointment “about the latest decisions made by the IWF executive board regarding changes to the scheduling of the Constitutional and Reform Congress, the Electoral Congress, and to the changes of the IWF anti-doping rules.” The EWF demanded the immediate reversal of those decisions.
On Jan. 22, 2021, the IWF announced that in order to allow for adequate time for the replacement of the IWF Constitution — a document proposed by the Reform and Governance Commission — the dates of the Constitutional Congress would be pushed to April 29 and 30, 2021. The EWF opposed this decision saying, “Having an Electoral Congress before the Constitutional Congress is absolutely not acceptable.”
The Electoral Congress is currently scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2021 where a new IWF President is likely, as British Weight Lifting (BWL) will not back current IWF Interim President Dr. Michael Irani for election. (BWL is Dr. Irani’s home federation.) Like the EWF, BWL has also previously voiced its disapproval of the current IWF Executive Board’s handling of governance reform and called for the current members to “step down.”
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The EWF’s statement also condemned the recent changes the IWF Executive Board made to the sport’s anti-doping rules, which they believe “made them weaker” and will “make it easier” for nations that have dealt with doping violations to avoid consequences. In the EWF’s view, the recent anti-doping changes are:
…a direct neglection of the demands from the IOC to work even harder to defeat doping.
The EWF’s announcement is yet another in a growing list of member federations making known their concerns about the IWF Executive Board’s handling of the IOC’s governance and anti-doping reform requests. Weightlifting’s continued place in the Olympic Games program is not guaranteed if the reforms are not met. Of the sports that received a reduced athlete quota for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, weightlifting’s reduction was the largest: 76 spots.
In light of the IOC’s comments regarding the anti-doping rules changes, the IWF released a statement of clarification on Jan. 29, 2021, wherein they “categorically den[ied] any action that violates the standards set by the IOC.”
Feature image from IWF’s Instagram page: @iwfnet