Weightlifting chief steps down amid corruption probe

Tamas Ajan (Getty Images)
Tamas Ajan (Getty Images)

International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) president Tamas Ajan resigned on Wednesday in the wake of allegations of corruption and doping violations made in a documentary earlier this year.

"The IWF thanks Tamas Ajan for more than four decades of service to weightlifting," said IWF acting president Ursula Papandrea in a statement on its website.

"We can now begin the work of determining a fresh path towards achieving the full potential of our sport," said Papandrea.

The statement by the Budapest-based federation noted an independent investigation is ongoing into the allegations made by German broadcaster ARD in a report in January.

The documentary alleged a "culture of corruption" had been established in the Olympic sport with prominent weightlifters rarely subjected to drugs tests and cash being taken by doping controllers to accept manipulated urine samples.

Hungarian Ajan, 81, who had been at the IWF since 1976 serving 24 years as general secretary and the past 20 as president, claimed the allegations were unfounded.

The programme by journalists ARD including Hajo Seppelt, who broke the story on Russia's state doping scandal, claimed half of the 450 world championship or Olympic medallists between 2008 and 2017 were not asked to undertake any doping tests while a doctor for the Moldovan team was caught on hidden camera explaining how urine samples could be manipulated.

Beyond doping, the report accused the IWF of transferring $5 million in funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into two Swiss accounts overseen only by Ajan.

Ajan claimed he had been the victim of "an unjust attack" by ARD.

"This film has completely ruined my life and 50 years of my work. A large part of my work has been about doping prevention," he said.

Papandrea also praised Ajan on Wednesday for his work "in recent years to ensure an anti-doping programme which meets the standards of the IOC (is) in place".

"I offered the best of my life to our beloved sport," Ajan said on Wednesday according to the IWF statement.

"When health circumstances related to the (Covid-19) pandemic allow, holding elections would enable a new generation to start work as soon as possible on ensuring a bright future for the sport we love," he said.

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