McLaren Investigation of IWF: Dr. Tamas Aján Involved in Deep Financial Corruption

Richard H. McLaren's report is now live.

On the morning of June 4th, Professor Richard H. McLaren, who was appointed by the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations made in the documentary The Lord of the Lifters by German broadcaster ARD against then IWF president Tamas Aján regarding financial corruption and cover-up of an anti-doping scandal, shared his findings.

In the simplest terms, the report’s determination is that Aján was involved in deep financial corruption as well as coordinated election fraud.

The allegations made in the documentary against the Hungarian National Anti-Doping Agency (HUNADO) regarding false drug testing, which were rejected by the IWF, did not prove to be accurate.

Key Findings

Financial Corruption

The investigation outlined that Aján established “autocratic authoritarian leadership,” the consequences of which were an ill-informed Executive Board unable to provide effective oversight to the IWF.

“Dr. Aján disabled anyone other than himself from understanding the overall affairs of the IWF.”

According to the report, Aján’s foundational control mechanism was a “tyranny of cash.” Regarding the financial corruption allegations, the report says Aján was the sole collector of “cash collected, cash withdrawn, or cash otherwise unaccounted for.”

The primary source of funds came from fees acquired from doping fines “paid personally to [Aján] and cash withdrawals of large amounts from the IWF’s accounts, usually withdrawn before major competitions or IWF congresses.”

The investigation concluded that there was no paper trail to determine where money that was withdrawn by Aján was spent or if it was used for legitimate purposes. The investigation determined $10.4 million was unaccounted for.

“The financial records are a jumble of incomplete and inaccurate figures distorted by a failure to accurately record cash expenditures and revenues and disclose hidden bank accounts by Dr. Aján.”

Tamas Ajan
Image via EnglishWeightlifting’s Twitter: @englishlifting

Doping

The Investigation did find that Aján “impermissibly interfered with the IWF Anti-Doping Commission.” The investigative team referred to Ajàn’s behavior “meddling.”

However, after uncovering forty Adverse Analytical Findings hidden in the IWF records that did not have samples dealt with, including those of Olympic Games gold and silver medalists (who were not named in the report), the investigative team believes “the real problem is the culture of doping that exists in the sport.”

The investigation did effectively clear HUNADO of any wrongdoing. It was determined that they had indeed operated in compliance with World Anti-Doping Administration (WADA) standards and that the cause of sample manipulation did not involve them. WADA has all of the confidential information and is conducting further investigation.

Election Fraud

According to the report, even after stepping down as IWF president, Aján hampered the transition of power to acting IWF President, Ursula Garza-Papandrea.

The investigation found that there was election interference on behalf of Aján and other senior level positions of the Executive Board during the two most recent Electoral Congresses. The interference includes coordinated vote buying — where members of the IWF were bribed to vote for Aján and candidates he supported. Those bribed members, which made up a voting bloc that would secure a victory for Aján, were tasked with photographing their ballots and providing it as evidence to the broker to receive payment.

“The mechanics of this system were in full force during the 2013 and 2017 elections.”

According to the report, those who Ajàn favored in senior level positions did not challenge his exclusive control over the financial operations of the IWF.

Feature image from EnglishWeightlifting’s Twitter: @englishlifting

Phil Blechman

Phil Blechman

Phil is a native New Yorker passionate about storytelling, bodybuilding, and game design. He holds a BFA from Syracuse University.

Before becoming a Staff Writer at BarBend, Phil worked on the creative team at World Wrestling Entertainment, as a narrator for Audible.com with over a dozen titles, and as a producer, director, and playwright Off-Broadway in New York City where he worked for The Araca Group and co-founded IJB Theatrical Productions. He can be heard as a co-host of both the Here’s What’s Up podcast and Eternal Durdles podcast.

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