On Sunday evening, German public service channel ARD broadcasted an investigative documentary, which said that the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), led by Hungarian sports diplomat Tamás Aján, cannot account for millions of dollars, and also accused the IWF with systematic doping at weightlifting events supervised by the body. The Hungarian anti-doping body (MACS) rejected the claims of the documentary on Monday.
According to the investigative documentary, systematic doping was practised with the knowledge of the Budapest-based International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), and the president, Tamás Aján cannot account for at least $5.5 million. They also accuse the body with document fraud, mismanagement and embezzlement, as the money came from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC ruled out its responsibility in the matter by not being able to interfere in the weightlifting federation’s internal affairs.
According to the confidential documents that ARD’s documentary is based on, nearly half of the weightlifters who won World Championship or Olympic medals have failed doping tests outside the competition season. IWF had commissioned MACS with supervising all large-scale competitions and almost all world championships, according to the documentary, and their inspectors haven’t found any problems; however, a doctor at the Moldovan weightlifting team talked about inspectors accepting money for manipulated doping samples.
In a statement signed by managing director Ágnes Tiszeker, MACS said that the German state broadcaster had disregarded the facts provided by the body. “Vague, malignant insinuations” are presented in the work of MACS doping controllers6 in a “false and unacceptable light,” the statement said.
As an independent controlling body, MACS is only responsible for collecting samples, and has no feedback or information on the results, the statement said. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), of which MACS is an accredited partner, has full access to the documentation of the work done in cooperation with IWF, the statement said, adding MACS had received no reports of breaches by staff or “behaviour jeopardising the purity or integrity of the sample.”
At the time of the accusations made eight years ago, results were not as clear as from the new analysis of urine and blood samples of forty-nine doping cases from Beijing and London in which twenty-nine athletes had to give their medals back at the Olympics. In one Olympic Games, 45 medals are awarded in weightlifting, and during the investigated two Olympics, according to the documentary, almost one-third of the 90 medal-receivers had used illicit drugs.
According to the statement of IWF, the documentary refers to cases which happened in the past, in which the charges were partly false and partly unfounded. The statement said that the IWF is appalled and astonished at the documentary because it contains a lot of unfounded accusations and distorted information. The body categorically rejects unproven and very serious accusations against them.
However, a corruption proceeding may start against the 80-year-old president of IWF, Tamás Aján, according to the website of ARD. Aján has been President of the IWF since 2000 and was elected in 2017 for the fifth time. He has been involved in the leadership of the Association for over 45 years as vice-president and secretary-general. He is also a member of the 38-member decision-making body of the WADA.
Like other sports federations, the IWF receives generous donations from the International Olympic Committee for its broadcasting rights at the Olympic Games. Since 1992, more than $23 million has been deposited into two bank accounts of the association, which was not included in the association’s balance sheet. According to ARD, the existence of two bank accounts came to light in 2009, to which Aján had the sole right of signature at the time. According to ARD, the president cannot account for at least $5.5 million from these accounts.
featured photo: Tamás Aján, president of IWF (iwf.net)