The danger of weightlifting’s exclusion from the Paris 2024 Olympic program seems to be reduced, but not eliminated.
Such perception emerges from the analysis of the situation of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) made by the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its meeting last Wednesday, where it was also learned that no case of doping was detected in weightlifting in Tokyo 2020.
The IOC’s considerations after the recent adoption of the IWF statutes were expressed in a letter addressed to the main directors of that federation.
The Olympic body has stated that the letter, signed by IOC Director General Christophe de Kepper, has been shared with all National Olympic Committees in order to keep athletes and stakeholders of the Olympic Movement informed.
The IOC recognizes as an “important step” in the process of reforms towards good governance the approval of the new statutes, but at the same time warns that it will be aware of the outcome of this December’s elections before restoring its confidence in the beleaguered international federation.
Last February the IOC had warned the IWF Executive Board of its serious concerns that, if not resolved, would lead to a review of weightlifting’s place in the Paris 2024 program and other future Olympic Games.
The IOC has described as “successful” the Congress in late August, which voted overwhelmingly for a new Constitution after its first attempt in June failed to pass. However, in this meeting with more than 190 national federations, all the proposals of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Testing Agency were endorsed.
The document recalls that last month’s Constitutional Congress had taken place after the amendments to the Olympic Charter approved by the IOC Session on August 8, the same day of the closing of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The IOC Executive Board recognizing the progress made in promoting athlete representation and gender equality at the IWF Board and Congress, also noted the utmost importance of the effective implementation of this new regulatory framework with a view to ensuring a necessary culture change.
“The process towards the next Electoral Congress offers an outstanding opportunity for the adoption of tangible changes and a new culture” states the letter.
In this regard, the IOC appreciated the granting of an additional deadline to submit nominations for “a new generation of candidates” at an Electoral Congress that has been rescheduled and will now be held on December 20-21.
In this chapter, the IOC has asked the IWF to clarify that the restrictions on the admissibility of candidates from sanctioned member federations also apply to those candidates representing continental federations.
The IOC confirmed that it will “continue to closely monitor” the ongoing investigations undertaken by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Intelligence and Investigation Department, as well as the results of any other relevant similar process.
The Olympic body revealed that as of today the International Testing Agency (ITA) has not reported any anti-doping rule violations in the weightlifting tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, an element that the IOC will take into account for its upcoming evaluation of the sport.
Weightlifting was one of the five sports that were tested the most along with athletics, water sports, cycling and rowing, according to the ITA’s final report published on its official website.
In the letter, the IOC Executive Board considers that in light of the above-mentioned considerations “it has decided to re-evaluate the situation of the IWF after the next Electoral Congress”.
The IOC also ratified that in consideration of the status of weightlifting in Paris 2024 and subsequent editions of the Olympic Games, it will continue its “follow-up” of the list of decisions that guarantee the change of culture and transparency in this sport with athletes of deserving protagonists of a new IWF.
These athletes have just starred in a memorable tournament with 40 Olympic records, and several historic medals for many countries, despite the pandemic.
In response to the IOC letter, the IWF made public this Friday its response in a message sent to all National Federations signed by the interim president, Michael Irani, and the secretary general, Mohammed Jalood.
The IWF recalled that these letters from the IOC have become “commonplace” since the results of the first post-doping control tests in Beijing 2008 and London 2016, which “caused the problems in our sport and became a source of great concern for the IOC”.
Concern turned into a threat of exclusion of weightlifting from future Olympic Games and three challenges imposed by the IOC to the IWF, as recalled in his letter on Friday:
1 - A comprehensive improvement of governance in the wake of the ARD documentary.
2 - Clean weightlifting competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
3 - Changes in IWF leadership to demonstrate cultural change.
National Federations will note, says the IWF, that while the IOC would have liked to have seen the new constitution adopted early, it poses no problems with the draft we approved in Doha and online, almost unanimously.
“This constitution is a great start. Implementation is, of course, of vital importance. We are now also looking at adopting more policies and transparency measures to move out of the bottom group of international Olympic federations in terms of governance, as measured by ASOIF. We must ensure a ranking we can be proud of.”
The IWF highlighted the “zero doping” result at the Tokyo Olympic tournament, praised its Olympic Classification System, and underlined the contribution of the ITA and National Federations in sending clean athletes.
In the letter, the IWF acknowledged that the IOC expects more changes in its next leadership to be elected in December based on strict eligibility criteria, a process that will feature new athlete representatives and more women.
“Now, however, is not the time to celebrate having avoided the worst. We must continue to work to achieve the best for our weightlifters. They deserve no less,” the missive noted.
Coinciding with these statements, this Friday the IWF announced that Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, will host both the December 7-17 Senior World Championships - originally scheduled for Lima, Peru - and then three days later the crucial Electoral Congress that will fix the attention of many, especially the IOC.
According to experts, it is likely that the world tournament will also serve as the stage for the elections of a new Athletes’ Commission in a new era.