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IWF Acknowledges ITA Investigation Report, And Ready To Take Immediate Action

Following today’s publication of the report by the International Testing Agency (ITA) into extensive past anti-doping rule violations in weightlifting, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has acknowledged the findings. As noted in the report, the ITA’s investigation and the various investigations that preceded it have enabled the IWF to get to the bottom of past misconduct, ensure the athletes and officials involved are dealt with appropriately and turn the page.

Like the report of Professor Richard McLaren and his team, the ITA’s investigation found that the inadequacies, mismanagement and apparent subversion of anti-doping processes within weightlifting in the past have become historical. Notably, the outsourcing of the IWF’s anti-doping programme to the ITA has allowed for weightlifters and those who support them to have full confidence in a professional and independent approach to clean weightlifting.

“Within days of me being appointed as Interim President of the IWF, General Secretary Mohammed Jalood and I signed a multi-year extension to our partnership with the ITA. I said then that the IWF is committed to ensuring the ITA is fully empowered to carry out investigations, with both a clear mandate and adequate resources. The outcome speaks for itself. The IWF is very grateful to the ITA for its diligence in this matter,” said IWF Interim President Dr. Michael Irani.

Under the agreement signed on 22 October 2020, the ITA is responsible for independently delivering the IWF’s anti-doping programme, including the investigation and prosecution of all anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). Meanwhile, the IWF is advised by an independent Anti-Doping Commission comprised of independent experts.

The ITA’s report brings resolution in 146 previously unresolved cases over the 2009-2019 period. Regrettably, in 29 cases, it has proven too late to prosecute violations that were not handled in a timely manner for reasons ranging from administrative incompetence to coverups.

“I am appalled by what is asserted to have been a complete betrayal of weightlifting and weightlifters by those who had been entrusted with the sport’s leadership,” said IWF President Dr. Michael Irani. “While the IWF is thankful for the ITA’s clear acknowledgement that such craven acts could not be repeated under its independent results management process, thanks to the arrangements in place for some time now, today’s report shows just how dark the dark days of our sport were. To all those athletes who were cheated of the opportunity to compete fairly, I would like to offer the IWF’s unreserved apology.”

A number of ADRVs have already resulted from the various investigations that preceded that published by the ITA today. The report of ITA can be found here.

The IWF has already implemented sanctions in these cases. The IWF is fully committed to implementing any further sanctions that are confirmed as a result of the ADRVs asserted by the ITA against former and current officials.

Over the course of the ITA investigation, it transpired that some IWF and national Member Federation officials had themselves also committed ADRVs of complicity and tampering in relation to certain cases. In the scope of the ITA’s mandate to vigorously pursue all potential ADRVs under the IWF’s jurisdiction, the ITA has thus asserted ADRVs against current and former IWF officials Tamas Ajan, former IWF President, Nicolae Vlad IWF Vice-President and current President of the Romanian Weightlifting Federation and Hassan Akkus, President of the European Weightlifting Confederation and former President of the Turkish Weightlifting Federation. The exact charges and evidence against these three officials are detailed in the ITA report and include covering up, delaying and obstructing results management for certain athletes that committed ADRVs in order for them to participate in high-level sporting events such as the Olympic Games and collusion to avoid potential fines and suspensions.

The IWF would like to thank the ITA for its work in carrying out the current investigation. The IWF would also like to reiterate its thanks to all those who conducted or contributed to the previous investigations. The IWF encourages all those with knowledge of doping in weightlifting, whether historical or current, to use the confidential whistleblower reporting mechanisms of REVEAL and / or SPEAK UP.