— Published 15 January 2021

Ursula Papandrea declares herself

Ursula Papandrea does not give up. The Greek-born American leader on Thursday (January 14th) announced her intention to run for president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Elections are scheduled for the end of March 2021. Ursula Papandrea was appointed by the IWF board last April to take over the chairmanship of the body after the forced resignation of Hungarian Tamas Ajan. But, against all odds, she was dismissed by the same council in October. The American was replaced by Thailand’s Intarat Yodbangtoey, himself replaced a few days later by Britain’s Michael Irani, the current interim president. “When I took on the interim IWF presidency, I knew some of the vital and necessary changes could not wait for the appointment of a new permanent president”, said the American when announcing her candidacy. “What I have discovered is a toxic culture of corruption, self-interest and doping that prioritises maintaining the status quo. The governance of the IWF has tarnished the reputation of our sport in an almost irreparable way and its Olympic status remains in jeopardy. The current board is made up of members who have a long history of crime and rule violations. They are not showing a real willingness to support the essential changes the organisation needs to survive. It is only when we eliminate those who have been complicit in corruption that weightlifting can regain its integrity and status in world sport”. To date, Ursula Papandrea is the only declared candidate for the IWF presidency. Acting President, Michael Irani, has said he will not be running for the post on a permanent basis.