Doping cover-ups and lost $10m highlighted in IWF probe
An independent investigation into alleged corruption at the International Weightlifting Federation has found that positive doping tests were covered up and that more than $10 million has gone missing.
Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor who led the probe, claimed today that corruption went right to the top of the organisation, with former president Tamas Ajan (pictured) acting as "an autocratic leader" and operating "a culture of fear."
The 81-year-old Hungarian official resigned in April with the investigation already under way. He had earlier given up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.
Ajan had been at the IWF since 1976, serving 24 years as general secretary, and another 20 as president but agreed to step aside temporarily in January after a television documentary from German broadcaster ARD accused him of overseeing corruption at the federation, with lax and underhand anti-doping measures, and financial irregularities on his part.
McLaren, who previously oversaw the wide-ranging 2016 investigation into doping in Russia commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, said today that 40 positive tests had been hidden in IWF records with athletes involved going on to compete and in some cases win medals at world championships.
In addition, Ajan is accused of failing to inform the board of financial affairs, and of receiving cash payments on behalf of the IWF as doping fines from national federations or sponsors.
McLaren claimed that $10.4 million of IWF income is not accounted for.
He said: “Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers). Some cash was accounted for, some was not.”
McLaren also accused Ajan of allowing elections to be influenced by vote brokers, with large amounts of money changing hands before federation congresses.
Since Ajan stepped aside, Ursula Papandrea, from USA, has been heading up the IWF as acting president until new elections are held.
WADA's intelligence and investigations department assisted McLaren in his probe and the agency will study the findings before taking any action.
In a statement today, it said: "WADA remains in consultation with the McLaren investigators, who have indicated their willingness to provide the agency with the relevant evidence they have gathered. Once WADA has had the opportunity to review that evidence as well as the report in full, the agency will consider the next appropriate steps to take."
The latter years of Ajan's reign were dominated by a battle to retain weightlifting's place in the Olympic Games following a spate of doping problems.
In March 2019, the IOC lifted the status of conditional inclusion of weightlifting at the Paris 2024 Olympics having reviewed the “positive steps taken” by the IWF to strengthen its anti-doping programme since the sport’s governing body was placed on watch in June 2017.
These included an agreement pending between the IWF and the International Testing Agency involving the federation delegating key areas of its anti-doping programme over the course of 2019.