The 2021 International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Open Championships run from Nov. 8-13, 2021, in Stavanger, Norway. According to a press release from USA Powerlifting (USAPL), before the event kicked off, IPF President Gaston Parage called for an Extraordinary General Assembly session of Congress, wherein a vote was held regarding a motion to expel the USAPL from the IPF.
Of the 27 IPF member federations present*, four abstained from voting, and the other 23 — more than the two-thirds majority needed for the motion to pass — voted unanimously to remove the USAPL. Per the IPF’s press release:
This was a result of USAPL’s non-compliance with the WADA Code and ongoing violations of the Code even after their suspension from the IPF.
*Note: there was a discrepancy between the USAPL and IPF’s press releases. The USAPL stated that 28 member federations were present, while the IPF stated that there were 27.
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The removal of USAPL came early into their year-long suspension from the IPF, which was issued in August 2021. USAPL’s suspension was a result of a judgment from the IPF Doping Hearing Panel (DHP), on grounds of non-compliance with WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Agency) drug testing protocols.
USAPL stated that obeying WADA’s policies would consume approximately half of their cash reserve in the first year of its application, and potentially allow for athletes to use therapeutic exemptions allowed by WADA, like testosterone, in competition. Testosterone use is prohibited by USAPL.
Per USAPL’s press release, the “vote [for its removal] came after USA Powerlifting Executives presented facts to the IPF Congress.” USAPL says the decision for their removal is due to conducting more extensive drug testing than WADA itself. WADA requires drug testing of athletes competing at the national and international levels. However, USAPL also tests at the local level.
The USAPL proposed following “the Olympic model” for testing, meaning elite level lifters would be separated from local level lifters. Only the elite lifters would be subject to the WADA protocol to allow the USAPL to continue testing at the local level without violating the mandate to be WADA compliant, which specifically does not allow for the testing of local lifters.
According to the IPF’s 2019 National Doping Test Reports, USAPL conducted the most urine tests of any country — 720 (396 men and 324 women). Germany was the next highest country with 350 urine tests and 55 blood tests (compared to zero blood tests for the US). And 72 countries in total listed no urine tests at all.
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USAPL Pro Series
USAPL already released its 2022 schedule for its inaugural Pro Series that features a prize pool of $235,000 and culminates at the Pro Series Finals at the Arnold Sports Festival in 2023. A USAPL Pro Card is required to compete at the following events and can be obtained by ranking in the top five of a raw division or top three equipped division at USAPL Nationals or competing in the 2021 Virginia Pro.
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2022 Pro Series Schedule
- Virginia Pro — December 2021
- Arnold Sports Festival — March 2022
- USAPL Nationals — June 2022, Las Vegas, NV
- UBU Expo (Formerly Europa Games) — June 2022, Dallas, TX
- UBU Expo — July 2022, Orlando, FL
- UBU Expo — August 2022, Phoenix, AZ
- Virginia Pro — December 2022
- Arnold Sports Festival (Pro Series Finals) — March 2023
BarBend has reached out to the IPF and USAPL for comment regarding USAPL’s expulsion from the IPF. On November 9, 2021, the IPF provisionally approved Powerlifting America as their new affiliate federation for the United States.
This article will be updated accordingly as the situation unfolds and commentary from either organization becomes available.
Featured image: @usapowerlifting on Instagram