On Feb 24, 2021, Director General of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Christophe De Kepper sent a letter to International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Interim President Dr. Michael Irani and IWF General Secretary M. Mohammed Jalood expressing concerns about the “culture and leadership of the IWF.”
This is not the first time in recent memory the IOC has admonished the IWF regarding its governance. As noted by De Kepper, three previous letters with explanations of concern were sent to the IWF on Feb. 5, 9, and 19, 2021 in regard to a recent decision that eased anti-doping violations. That decision was reversed by the IWF, but the IOC pointed out “many other areas of requested change” from the IOC and International Testing Agency (ITA) that “have been ignored.”
— EnglishWeightlifting (@englishlifting) February 26, 2021
[Related: Members of the IWF Independent Disciplinary And Ethics Commission Announced]
The IOC listed five major concerns including ongoing anti-doping investigations, Olympic qualification events, the scheduling of the upcoming Electoral and Constitutional Congresses, lack of transparency, and perhaps most notably: the “lack of engagement with the elected athlete representatives.”
Chair of the IWF Athlete’s Commission Sarah Davies has confirmed to BarBend in a to-be-released podcast recording that the IWF Executive Board has been largely unwelcoming and dismissive to her and other athletes’ presence on the Athlete’s Commission.
If the IWF fails to address the IOC’s concerns “in a satisfactory and timely way” the IOC may follow through on their threat to withdraw weightlifting from the 2024 Paris Olympic Games program as well as reduce the quota for IWF officials at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Weightlifting has already incurred a loss of 76 spots in the athlete quota for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games — the largest of any sport.
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[Related: Ursula Papandrea Announces IWF Presidential Bid, Seeks Leadership Overhaul]
Davies took to her Instagram page to “beg” every IWF member federation to vote for new members of the IWF Executive board.
To keep our place in the Olympics we need COMPLETE REFORM!
She went on to highlight the ethical complications of members currently sitting on the IWF Executive Board. Examples included the anti-doping violations and a Medical Council rules breach committed by members who were former weightlifters, money laundering, and involvement in the financial corruption scandal involving former IWF President Dr. Tamas Aján.
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Davies warns that if the IWF Executive Board is not overhauled in the upcoming elections, then “our member federations are to blame for losing our place in the Games.” British Weight Lifting and the European Weightlifting Federation have voiced a similar sentiment.
Davies believes the IWF needs “young fresh energy to move our sport forward.”
Feature image from IWF’s Instagram page: @iwfnet