The International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) leadership has been in fairly constant flux over the past year. Ever since former long-time IWF President Dr. Tamás Aján stepped down following allegations of financial corruption, which the McLaren report confirmed, and the rampant doping scandals that have plagued the sport, the security of weightlifting’s place at the Olympic Games has been put in jeopardy. The sport has already had its quota at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games reduced by 76 spots — a larger reduction than any other Olympic sport.
According to initial reporting by Inside the Games, British Weight Lifting (BWL) will not support the candidacy of current IWF Interim President Dr. Michael Irani at the upcoming IWF Electoral Congress — where a new IWF President will be elected. Currently, the Electoral Congress is scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2021. Without the support of his home country’s federation — in this case, BWL — he will not be eligible to seek candidacy for IWF President.
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The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to reduce weightlifting’s athlete quota by such a large margin was an indication of their dissatisfaction with the IWF Executive Board’s ongoing governance reform. BWL CEO Ashley Metcalfe and USA Weightlifting (USAW) CEO Phil Andrews have both voiced their concerns. Metcalfe even called for the IWF Executive Board to “step down with immediate effect.”
Irani was tapped by the IWF Executive Board to serve as Interim President after they ousted Ursula Papandrea from the position in October 2020. Irani assumed the role of IWF Acting President following a day-long tenure by Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand — Papandrea’s original replacement.
British Weight Lifting is instead backing Matthew Curtain and Heather Allison for leadership roles within the IWF. Per Inside the Games, the specific positions considered are First Vice-President, Vice-President, or spots on the IWF Executive Board. Curtain was weightlifting’s competition manager at the 2012 London Olympic Games and has been the International Teqball Federation (ITF) Sports Director since 2018. Allison currently sits on the IWF Women’s Commission.
On Jan. 14, 2021, Papandrea announced her bid for the IWF Presidency with the pledge of overhauling the IWF’s leadership, installing new anti-doping processes oversight, and establishing an Integrity Commission to vet board members, among other things. The full list of candidates will be published by the IWF on Feb. 26, 2021 — 30 days before the Electoral Congress.
BarBend has reached out to British Weight Lifting for comment, but have not yet heard back. We will continue to provide updates on the IWF election process as it progresses.
Featured image from IWF’s Instagram page: @iwfnet