It looks like the Wilks formula is on its way out.
The International Powerlifting Federation’s General Assembly will be held on November 4 in Sweden this year (at the same time as the IPF World Championships) and the meeting’s agenda has been released. You can read it here if you’d like and while there’s quite a lot of bureaucracy at these meetings, one interesting tidbit has leapt out: the Wilks formula will soon be no more.
For those not in the know, this is a formula used to measure powerlifters’ strength across weight classes. If a 200-pound athlete and a 400-pound athlete squat 600 pounds each, it’s a more impressive feat for the lighter athlete. The formula takes an athlete’s weight into account when comparing totals and spits out a number that any athlete of any weight class can use to compare against one another.
Here’s the relevant snippet (grammatical errors are theirs):
From next year on a new IPF formula will be used. We have had specialist who working on this to make sure we have the best formula’s in the future. The Specialist from the University of Leipzig have analysed all proposals we have forward to them and compared each other together to bring up the formula presented at our congress. This has not been changed because of Robert Wilks but because it was time to do it. Also we have taking time to make sure we do it on the correct way and that we have really a better system. Now it is ready and it will be used from 2018 on.
Now the formula has been criticized for not being perfect — it’s generally seen as being not quite as friendly to middle weight class lifters as to those who are very light or very heavy.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t address that “this has not been changed because of Robert Wilks” comment because he and the IPF have not been getting on of late. Wilks is the creator of the original formula and the former head of Powerlifting Australia (PA) and Oceania Powerlifting Federation (OPF), and about a year ago the IPF resolved to exclude him, PA, and OPF from the IPF after what they described as,
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.
Wilks released a statement calling the decision “outrageous and destructive.”
In this year’s meeting agenda, the IPF notes that Wilks’ legal cases against the IPF,
demanded that the court rule as to the annihilation of the IPF and the nullification of all championships from 2008 and as well as the nullification of all records as well. In other words that all the time, money, effort and passion that all of us have put into this sport for the last 10 years be wiped out.
Anyway, the news of the IPF ditching the Wilks formula comes hot on the heels of the abolition of the equivalent in Olympic weightlifting, the Sinclair coefficient. The IWF decided to do away with it in June this year and replace them with Robi points.
One criticism the IWF received was that the man who came up with the Robi points, former IWF Technology Director and Olympic athlete Robert Nagy, is not a mathematician or statistician. It’s encouraging that the IPF has been in touch with specialist academics to help them devise the Wilks 2.0.
Which will have nothing to do with Robert Wilks.
Featured image via @theipf on Instagram.