Weightlifting: The New Revolution

(ATR) A rock anthem inspires this look at the embattled federation ... an ATR exclusive.

(ATR) "I'll tip my hat to the new constitution, Take a bow for the new revolution, Smile and grin at the change all around me," cries Roger Daltrey in the Who classic "Won’t Get Fooled Again".

In their quest to rescue the International Weightlifting Federation from Olympic relegation, leaders of the embattled sport might draw some inspiration from this gritty rock anthem.

Tipping their hat at a new constitution, the IWF is indeed on the path a new revolution. After a misstep or two along the way, the federation now appears to be on track toward adopting a new constitution in June. That will be followed in 90 days by the election of a new president and other officers. The new constitution, a 125 page document, can be viewed in its draft form here,

The new schedule should be signal to the IOC that the IWF is willing to listen, says interim president Michael Irani. After complaints from the IOC about plans calling for elections this month followed in April by a constitutional congress, Irani and the IWF executive board reversed the order and added more time to this important process. Scuttled as well were a slate of candidates for election to IWF posts, including 11 candidates for president.

"If you want to do a job, do it well. And the way to do it is the legal way, the secure way. Something that will stand the test of time. We don’t want a band-aid job," Irani tells Around the Rings.

Speaking from his home in London on the eve of IOC meetings this week, Irani is urging patience in Lausanne as the IWF sorts through the steps needed to create a new constitution – essentially, a new federation.

"Thank you for your patience while we sort out the mechanisms for doing this," Irani says he would tell IOC members this week if he wereto have the chance to speak to them.

"We want to make a lasting arrangement, not a fragile one," he says.

Irani says he appreciates the scrutiny the IOC is heaping on the federation. Lately that has also included a warning that weightlifting could be struck from the program for the 2024 Olympics in Paris unless a new constitution is adopted that passes muster by the IOC.

"They have told us what to do, what they want of us," says Irani about the flow of commentary between the IWF and IOC. "It may not be exactly what we want, but we can’t compromise on this."

"I would rather adopt this and stay in the Olympics than not adopt it on principle and be out of the Olympics," says Irani about minor differences between the IWF and IOC.

One of those differences is an age 70 limit for office holders at the federation, which is the same for the IOC. Irani says he would rather see the restriction dropped but it won’t be a deal breaker.

Another voice urging the weightlifting community to rally around the changes comes from Marcus Stephen, president of the Oceania Weightlifting Federation. A 1990 Commonwealth Games champion for Nauru, he’s speaker of the house in the national legislature.

As a veteran legislator accustomed to political debate, Stephen acknowledges that there may be disputes within the IWF over some points in the new constitution. He tells his colleagues "not to be selfish" and to consider whether what they say brings favor to the sport at a time it needs all the help it can get.

"It is happening. We are making the changes needed. And that’s the message I want the IOC to be very clear on," he tells ATR.

"Under the new constitution it will be a new IWF, even if the name is the same" says Stephen. The new constitution will bring a new governance structure to the IWF. We have focused on cleaning up the sport and protecting clean athletes."

Stephen, Irani and others at the IWF are tipping their hats to the new constitution. So they won’t get fooled again. Maybe the IOC will be listening, too and like the song says, "Smile at the changes all around me."