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Weightlifting’s Olympic Spot Might be in Danger Amid ARD’s Doping Claims

Ábrahám Vass 2020.01.20.

On Wednesday, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) will hold an emergency meeting in Doha to address the German state broadcaster ARD’s recent report, accusing IWF and its long-time Hungarian leader Tamás Aján with systematic doping, fraud, mismanagement, and embezzlement. While some dignitaries want his head, Aján denies wrongdoings.

The scandal broke out following ARD’s documentary Secret Doping – the Lord of the Lifters, published on January 5th.

Hungarian Anti-doping Body and IWF Deny Doping Claims

According to Olympic news website Inside the Games, Aján has written to the governing body’s 192 Member Federations, complaining that broadcaster ARD “gave no recognition to our reforms,” arguing that “you will, of course, have noted that the great majority of the ARD allegations refer to the past, while the TV show gave no recognition for our reforms – many of which have gone further and faster than in any other international sports federation.”

According to the website, he was referring to changes in the past two-and-half years that were praised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including a new qualifying system for the Olympics that involves more doping tests, the involvement of the International Testing Agency (ITA) in the management of anti-doping procedures, and more severe punishments for offenders.

Weightlifting Olympic future in peril?

On Sunday, the former head of World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Richard Pound, who is also an IOC member, said in a statement that the IWF should be suspended. “Facing the facts, the logical answer might be to remove weightlifting temporarily from the Olympic program and to suspend the Federation until it would be made clear to IOC that it complies with the Olympic values.”

In addition, Russian Weightlifting Federation president and IWF Executive Committee member Maxim Agapitov demanded Aján’s resignation. “Out of ethical reasons, he has to resign and take the responsibility. Changes in weightlifting should start with the leadership.”

Aján still denies ARD’s claims

In reaction to the IWF’s extraordinary session and ARD’s allegations, Aján told wire service MTI that “the story aired by ARD lacks any form of credibility and contains false accusations, distortions and falsehoods.”

“It is regrettable that one or two board members are out to ruin their own sport out of personal interest after they’ve recently made unsuccessful bids for various positions,” Aján said in reaction to remarks in the documentary by former candidates for the IWF presidency and the position of secretary-general.

While in response to Agapitov, Aján claimed the Russian leader targets the Federation and himself because he tries to compensate for the “huge number of disciplinary procedures” launched against the Russian federation for doping offences over the past decade.

featured image: illustration; via Pixabay