Time for Change; No Old Regime Allowed

(ATR) Chair of weightlifting federation’s new Athletes Commission says she’s ready for the challenge …

(ATR) Sarah Davies was named chair of the IWF’s newly formed Athletes Commission last September. The 28-year-old Tokyo hopeful says weightlifting must show it’s serious about change … and that it must clean up the sport.

"The sport needs to show that they are doing a lot of doping testing and we need to ensure there are no positive tests that come back from these Games," Davies tells Around the Rings.

"This puts the future of our sport as much in the hands of each and every athlete who will compete in the Games, and not just on how the IWF moves forward."

Warned by Thomas Bach and the IOC that the sport could lose its place in the program for Paris, the IWF is in the process of adopting a new 125-page constitution and electing a new president. A congress is scheduled for June to approve the new constitution with the election of a new leader and other board members to take place at least 90 days after that at another congress.

The outspoken Davies is a 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist in the 69-kilogram weight class. She also competed at five world championships – and is one of just two female members on the IWF’s voting executive board. Davies says that she and other weightlifters can help the federation facilitate positive change within the troubled sport.

"I think there needs to be better transparency in all decision making, executive board minutes, accounts, etc., so that everyone can see how things are run and where money is spent," she proposes. "I think the publication of all ITA anti-doping tests on the IWF website is a good step forward in terms of transparency of anti-doping."

Davies and others have expressed concern about a presidential election not taking place until after the Tokyo Games – as advised by the IOC. But she is clear about what she would like to see – or not see -- in a new leader.

"I think anyone who has been on the EB for more than five years and was involved during the ruling of Tamas Ajan should not be eligible to run for president or for the EB positions," Davies tells ATR. Ajan, from Romania, was forced to resign in April 2020 amid charges of corruption, mismanagement and anti-doping deceptions during his 20 year tenure as federation president.

"I would like to see someone who has been proactive already in how the IWF can move forward, and has also been outspoken in what needs to be done and how they will make positive changes."

Goals for Her and Her Sport

Davies is also a beauty queen -- a former Miss Leeds and Miss Intercontinental England. She also manages her business, Wisdom 4 Weightlifting, established in 2014 to support and provide training resources for athletes chasing their Olympic dreams.

Davies says most of weightlifting’s burden revolves around anti-doping and promoting clean sport.

"There needs to be more done to promote the clean athletes of the sport, not those who have previously served doping violations who are currently put on a pedestal by the IWF and also weightlifting fan pages," Davies says. "I also think there needs to be some consideration on how we make the sport more interactive to the audience."

Davies started weightlifting in September 2011 and made her international debut just two-and-a-half years later. Even as she pursues her Olympic ambitions, she emphasizes that the IWF must pay closer attention to all of its athletes as well as the sport’s overall health to get to the better future.

"The IWF is an organization that exists because of the athletes, therefore it is important that the athletes are the center of all decisions and their input, ideas and thoughts are valued and considered in all decision-making," Davies says.

"I hope that the organization will move forwards to become more transparent in their decisions and have equality in all areas."

In regards to personally representing Team GB at the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, Davies says: "I am so excited to experience the Olympic Games – it is the thing of dreams.

"I just want to go there, enjoy the experience and perform to my best on the day. We will see how that goes and where that placing gets me - watch this space."

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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