— Published 25 June 2021

146 unsolved doping cases in ten years

IWF

The weightlifting world keeps being unveiled. A report by the International Testing Agency (ITA), published on Thursday, June 24th, reveals the existence of 146 unsolved doping cases from 2009 to 2019. It led to the indictment by the ITA of three of current or past main leaders of the international body of the discipline (IWF). Former president Tamas Ajan (Hungary), who was forced to resign last year after 20 years at the head of the IWF, is accused of “complicity and falsification”. The current vice-president of the IWF, Nicu Vlad, who is also president of the Romanian federation, is charged with the same offences. Turkish Hasan Akkus, current president of the European Weightlifting Confederation, is charged with “falsification”. In a lengthy press release, the ITA explained that its investigation had been hampered by “the inaction of the IWF in recent years”. It said it had been unable to pursue 29 anti-doping rule violations “due to a statute of limitations and/or the destruction of evidence”. The document particularly explains that some of these doping cases were not dealt with or sanctioned due to poor record keeping, chaotic organisational processes, outright negligence or even blatant and intentional cover-ups. The current acting president of the IWF, Michael Irani of Britain, said he was “appalled” by the findings of the ITA report. “To all the athletes who have been denied the opportunity to compete fairly, I would like to offer the IWF’s unreserved apology,” he said. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), for its part, welcomed the publication of the report. “It is clear that weightlifters have been betrayed by some of their administrators,” WADA suggested in a statement. “It is a shame that a culture of fear, intimidation and silence has continued for so long. It is encouraging, however, that action is now being taken thanks to the diligent work of the International Testing Agency, to which the federation has delegated the independent management of its anti-doping programme.”