According to a press release shared on the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF)’s website, longstanding IWF President Dr. Tamás Aján is resigning his International Olympic Committee (IOC) honorary membership.
This resignation comes amid the ongoing investigation of allegations of financial corruption, false drug testing, and subsequent cover-up made against Aján and the IWF by the German state broadcaster ARD’s documentary titled Secret Doping – the Lord of the Lifters. The documentary alleged that seven to eight million dollars paid by the IOC to the IWF is unaccounted for and being held in two Swiss bank accounts in Aján’s name.
Aján and the IWF have rejected all allegations. In the audio from a 2009 interview, Aján claimed those accounts were an emergency fund for the IWF.
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Aján was first elected the IWF President in 2000 and is currently serving his fifth term but, according to the IWF, has “delegated a range of operational responsibilities to IWF Vice President Ursula Papandrea, who will temporarily serve alongside Aján in an Acting President role.”
That transfer of responsibility to Papandrea was intended to last for a 90-day period that began on January 22nd and includes heading an Oversight and Integrity Commission that would recommend experts to undertake an independent investigation into the allegations. On January 31st, the IWF Executive Board appointed Professor Richard H. McLaren to lead that investigation, with Steven Berryman — perhaps best known for uncovering corruption and bribery at FIFA — named lead Financial Investigator.
[Related: USA Weightlifting President Phil Andrews’ interview with BarBend regarding the ARD documentary allegations.]
“Since the ARD TV show on weightlifting made its unfounded allegations at the beginning of the year, the work to investigate them has proven to be a time-consuming and costly exercise for the IWF,” Aján said in the IWF press release detailing his resignation from the IOC. “Ultimately, I continue to believe that the ongoing independent investigation will demonstrate the ARD’s allegations to be baseless where they concern the IWF and me personally (…) it is clearly vital that we maintain our focus on the success of weightlifting at Tokyo 2020.”
Feature image International Weightlifting Federation logo.