IWF Clean Sport Commission Plans to Appoint Independent Testing Authority

On September 30th, the IWF confirmed the one-year bans presented to the national weightlifting bodies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

This news — while not explicitly mentioned in the IWF’s release — will keep athletes from these countries from competing at this year’s IWF World Championships taking place in November in Anaheim, California. To remedy weightlifting’s ongoing doping issues, the IWF Clean Sport Commission is making steps towards appointing an Independent Testing Authority.

Yesterday, an IWF press release shared the progress the IWF Executive Board made over the weekend towards working with the IWF Clean Sport Commission of the official appointment of an Independent Testing Authority. The IWF Executive Board voted unanimously to move the sport to an Independent Testing Authority, a switch that’s especially relevant amid fears of weightlifting being dropped from future Olympic competitions.

The IWF Clean Sport Commission announced they plan to take multiple steps to improve how weightlifting tests their athletes. From the press release, below are a few of the recommendations in weightlifting the Clean Sport Commission plans to improve upon.

  • Potential changes in the IWF Anti-Doping Policy
  • Anti-Doping Education – shifting the culture through targeted spread of knowledge
  • Sample Collection
  • Analytical innovations

An Inside the Games article also covering the IWF’s meeting pointed out that, “The threat of being dropped by the IOC followed a series of doping scandals, most notably 24 positives at the 2015 World Championships and 49 positives in the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.”

In theory, the Independent Testing Authority could address some of the doping issues weightlifting has had and move closer to cleaning up the sport. IWF President Tamás Aján emphasized progress the IWF Clean Sport Commission has already made and said, “In a very short space of time they have already begun to identify improvements we can make that will protect and benefit our sport.” 

The threat of being dropped from future Olympic competitions was felt earlier this year in June, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reduced the number of men’s weight classes for the Tokyo Games to seven (the actual weight class to be dropped will be up to the IWF). This was ostensibly done to create gender equality in the sport, but officials later indicated it also had a tie to weightlifting’s doping issues.

After the weight class drop, IOC President Thomas Bach went on record saying, “All must remain compliant with the Olympic Charter and the world anti-doping code. We have sent a strong signal to weightlifting by reducing the quota for athletes for Tokyo 2020.”

Editor’s Note 10/3: The original publishing of this article stated that the IWF would be appointing an ITA, but that has sense been corrected and changed to the IWF Clean Sport Commission. 

Feature image from @iwfnet Instagram page.