IOC 'Highly Concerned' With IWF Decisions

(ATR) The appointment of a new interim president for the weightlifting federation has done nothing to assuage the IOC.

(ATR) The appointment of a new interim president of the International Weightlifting Federation has done nothing to assuage the IOC.

Michael Irani, the IWF medical director, was chosen on Thursday to head the federation until a new president is elected at the IWF Congress currently scheduled for March 2021. Irani said he will not be running for the position.

Irani replaces Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand, who held the post for less than two days. As first vice president, he was constitutionally required to take over as president after the IWF Executive Board voted on Tuesday to remove interim president Ursula Papandrea.

The IOC said on Friday it "continues to be highly concerned about the confusing decisions taken by the Board of the International Weightlifting Federation in the last few days, particularly as regards to the chosen replacements as Acting President, as well as to the global governance of the International Federation."

On Wednesday, the IOC had said it was "very worried" about the IWF board’s decision to oust Papandrea.

Papandrea, a former president of USA Weightlifting, had been leading a reform process within the federation following the resignation of Tamás Aján in April.

The IOC, in its Wednesday statement, said that it enjoyed excellent cooperation with Papandrea "and is fully supportive of the reforms she has initiated in the IWF".

Following her ouster as interim president, Papandrea has also quit as IWF vice president.

In her letter of resignation sent to the interim president, general secretary and executive board members, she stated "I want to be sure you understand this has nothing to do with the demotion. It is based on the treatment I endured at the hands of several board members. I no longer have any desire to engage with numerous members. I see the intent of the Executive Board as misguided and self-serving."

She included a list of 25 complaints and observations on her tenure with the federation, saying the executive board thwarted her "sincere efforts for comprehensive governance reform starting in June".

Other issues she raised were "the absolute disregard for the IOC thereby endangering the sport on the Olympic program", "Ignoring direct warnings from the IOC" and "Providing erroneous and misleading information about my activity as Interim President to IOC with the explicit intent to mislead them".

The IWF is already on thin ice with the IOC due to the corruption, mismanagement and anti-doping deceptions during Aján’s 20 year tenure as federation president.

The scope of the problem was revealed in June when anti-corruption expert Richard McLaren released his report following a four-month investigation.

Papandrea, in her letter, said the IWF EB did not fully cooperate with the McLaren investigation. She also said it is her belief the interests of the board "are not reflective of all member federations or athletes, and exhibit more concern for nations with a gross number of positives rather than clean athletes".

The IOC EB, at its meeting last week, had called for continuing reforms within the IWF in order to ensure the independence of its anti-doping operations and the modernization of its governance and management structures.

It also expressed strong concerns about the need for further progress to reform the IWF constitution ahead of the IWF elections.

With the IOC EB due to decide quota places and events for Paris 2024 at its December meeting, the IOC has made it clear that quota places, events and even weightlifting’s place on the Olympic Program itself will depend on progress on the various reforms.

Homepage photo: ATR

Written by Gerard Farek

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