Powerlifting Australia and Robert Wilks Are Out of the IPF

The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) has resolved to exclude Powerlifting Australia (PA), the Oceania Powerlifting Federation (OPF), and the President of both organizations Robert Wilks from the IPF.

While PA and the OPF have been excluded, the IPF membership of the other Oceanian nations — which include New Zealand, Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia — has not been affected.

What happened? The decision was made at the recent IPF General Assembly, and if you’re interested in powerlifting politics, we recommend reading the minutes from that meeting. IPF President Gaston Parage said that it was partly due to the fact that the member federations did not ratify Wilks as a member of the IPF’s executive committee. The explanation for the proposal to exclude Wilks and his organizations read in part,

For the last two years, the IPF and its EC have been subject to a persistent campaign by OPF, PA and Mr. Wilks. This campaign has involved inundating the IPF disciplinary bodies with claims (that the IPF EC considers to lack any merit), taking the IPF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (unsuccessfully) and subjecting the IPF and the members of its EC to abusive and intolerable comments.

The campaign culminated earlier this year in a court action in Luxembourg in which the PA, OPF and Mr. Wilks are seeking the annihilation of the IPF as a federation together with an invalidation of all its competitions since 2010.

It also stated that Wilks had made “abusive and inappropriate comments about the IPF, its EC and members (including before important stakeholders such as the IOC and SportAccord).”

Wilks has not yet publicly addressed why he believes he has been excluded.

Wilks’ name is known among powerlifters as the creator of the Wilks Coefficient, a formula used to judge a powerlifter’s strength relative to their bodyweight. Many powerlifting meets, including those held by the IPF itself, award prizes based on the best Wilks attained on the day.

[Wondering who’s got the best Wilks of all time? Check out our infographic here!]

While the IPF has stated that Wilks agreed to the proposal to exclude him “without prejudice and reserving his other rights,” Powerlifting Australia said on their Facebook page that they “vigorously opposed” the “grossly improper and not sound” resolution, and they plan to contest it. In an official statement, Wilks himself called the decision “outrageous and destructive.”

Powerlifting Australia and OPF are robustly pursuing an appeal through the Courts in Luxembourg, aside from considering all our options. (…)

Be assured though that PA and the OPF remain sound and are proceeding firmly with our programme for 2017/2018.

Wilks went on to confirm that Powerlifting Australia will still be in attendance at December’s Oceania Championships and Pacific Invitational in Singapore, April’s Pacific Invitational and Sydney Open, and the Australian Junior, Master’s, and Open Championships in August and October next year.

“Whatever the intricacies of world affiliation, those events will be successes in their own right,” he added.

While Wilks was excluded from the IPF immediately, the IPF granted amnesty for December’s Oceania Powerlifting Championships — the exclusion of PA and OPF won’t begin until midnight on December 10, the last day of the meet. After that, according to IPF rules, Powerlifting Australia and Oceana Powerlifting Federation athletes will be ineligible for IPF competitions.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article described Powerlifting Australia as a business. It is in fact a not-for-profit entity and a Company Limited By Guarantee, a second-tier corporation that is legally owned by all members.

Featured image via @powerliftingaustralia on Instagram.

Thanks to Reddit user Scybear and James Wakefield for their help with this article.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.