On Aug. 27, 2021, USA Powerlifting (USAPL) published a press release revealing that the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) issued a 12-month suspension to USAPL. For context, the IPF is the international powerlifting governing body USAPL operates under.
The suspension comes following a judgment from the IPF Doping Hearing Panel (DHP). It is a consequence of USAPL’s refusal to adhere to the IPF’s mandate to be WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) compliant. According to the release, this suspension means that USAPL athletes cannot compete in IPF events — just local, national, and USAPL Pro events.
Per the USAPL, adhering to the mandate means they’ll suffer a severe drop in the number of doping tests administered due to a 20-fold increase in testing costs. The expense of these new doping tests was estimated to consume half of USAPL’s cash reserve in the first year, resulting in an 87.5 percent drop in administered tests across the over 400 sanctioned competitions. According to the mandate, the USAPL would not have input regarding therapeutic use exemptions allowed by WADA (i.e., testosterone), resulting in an athlete using a USAPL-banned substance.
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The press release went on to say the USAPL is “deeply disappointed in this decision by the IPF” and that they disagree with “IPF’s new brand of powerlifting that allows doping to run rampant.” The USAPL’s plea for their members to compete in IPF sanctioned events under a special designation was denied. In their press release, USAPL used the example of Russian athletes who competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games representing the Russian Olympic Committee rather than Russia since the country was banned from the Games for doping violations.
Some members of the powerlifting community feel as though USAPL shouldn’t run its own anti-doping program as a national governing body. Some think that conforming to a more widely-used and supported protocol leads to greater consistency and fairer testing protocols.
USAPL plans to shift the funds “previously allocated for participation in the IPF events…directly back to the athletes” via their new Pro Series, which will now “payout over $200,000 to [USAPL’s] Pro Athletes.” USAPL announced their Pro Series on their Instagram page on August 26, 2021. Additional details of the Pro Series are forthcoming.
On Sept. 1, 2021, the IPF released the IPF DHP’s 15-page decision to suspend the USAPL and its athletes for 12 months. In their press release, the IPF noted the suspension was due to the USAPL conducting “its own doping controls after Jan. 1, 2021.” As part of IPF’s status as a “compliant Signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code,” national federations are only allowed to conduct their drug testing under their documented authority. As noted in the IPF’s announcement, the USAPL continuing their own drug testing compromised the IPF’s status as a compliant Signatory with the World Anti-Doping Code.
The announcement also addressed a way for the suspension to be lifted if the USAPL is willing to comply, stating, “those suspensions can be avoided in the event that the USAPL confirms that it will henceforth comply with its obligations under the ADR by not conducting unauthorized doping controls.”
We will update this article accordingly if the USAPL responds.
Feature image: @usapowerlifting on Instagram