Iraq’s Mohamed Jaloud has been elected as the new president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) – but not before scenes of chaos and controversy at the body’s elections over the weekend.

Jaloud, who also holds citizenship in Kazakhstan, previously held the role of general secretary at the IWF for five years, and reports suggest that during the election in Tirana, Albania, on Saturday (June 25), he initially attempted to withdraw his candidacy from consideration at the last minute.

This would have left Yousef Al-Mana from Qatar (a close friend of Jaloud for many years) as the only candidate and the de-facto winner of the election. However, Al-Mana himself then withdrew from consideration, resulting in Jaloud being declared the winner without an official vote.

According to reports, the final decision confirming Jaloud's presidency caused angry scenes in the election hall as delegates from various countries protested vigorously. 

It is not certain whether Al-Mana had always wanted and intended for Jaloud to run as the only candidate or whether he was initially in favor of a vote amongst delegates before then deciding to withdraw. Proceedings were stopped during the middle of the incident, with electoral manager Olivier Ducrey attempting to mediate and restore order to the process.

Ducrey reportedly had to tell delegates to stay in their seats during the uproar.

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Jaloud now becomes the first Asian president in the IWF’s history, although stood in the election as an individual instead of a nation's representative.

He managed to gain the required level of support from the international member federations despite not having been officially nominated by his own.

He has now said: "I would like to thank the weightlifting family for all the good work done together over the years. But especially my good friend Mohamed Yousef Al-Mana who withdrew his candidacy to unite the IWF family.

"Looking ahead, we have a lot of good work to do and we are all committed to the same goal. Today, we have taken the first step in building a stronger organization, one that is more resilient and more ambitious."

Of the 11 candidates who initially set out to become the body’s new president, nine – all except Al-Mana and Jaloud – had withdrawn by the time of the election.

Elsewhere, Jose Quinones from Peru was elected as general secretary (despite having previously served a five-year ban from the sport for alleged financial mismanagement in his home country), while Ursula Papandrea of the US was elected as first vice president.

She acted as interim president of the governing body for six months in 2020.

In total, 10 previous board members – from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, and India – lost their seats.

They were replaced by the following new members: Florian Sperl of Germany, Matthew Curtain of Britain, Tom Liaw of Singapore, Mohammed Alharbi of Saudi Arabia, Fathi Masmoudi of Tunisia, Yassiny Esquivel of Costa Rica, Gardencia Du Plooy of South Africa, and Wen Hsin (Meco) Chang of Taiwan.

There has been a change of 66% in the senior leadership team of the IWF.

During the last two years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has criticized the IWF's governance structures over and over again, and the decision has been taken to leave the sport off the initial program for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

Last week, Tamas Ajan, the Hungarian former president of the IWF who resigned from that role in April 2020, was banned from future involvement in the sport for life for covering up doping offenses.