Sports

Weightlifting: Former IWF boss fires back, says my hands are clean

Tamás Aján, who was denounced for corruption during his long reign as a weightlifting leader by the Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, has written an open letter claiming that the accusations against him are unfounded.

Aján, 81, resigned as President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) last month after 20 years in office, having served 24 years before that as general secretary.

His resignation followed a number of allegations raised in a German TV documentary, which were described by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as “very serious and worrying”.

An independent investigation led by McLaren found that more than $10 million (£7.94 million/€8.82 million) was unaccounted for over a 10-year period, that the past two IWF elections had been rigged through bribery, and that Aján had constantly meddled in anti-doping procedures.

A 122-page report by McLaren gave details of many instances of corruption, and said Aján’s “obsession with control made it a culture of fear that prevented a vibrant and robust sports administration.

The report by McLaren concluded that there were “systemic Government failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF.”

Aján responded tonight by sending out, by email to media organisations and others, a letter that read: “To whom it may concern,

“In my whole life I have respected the law, the written and unwritten rules and practices of sport.

“In accordance with the IWF Constitution, all necessary decisions were taken by the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation.

“It was the Executive Board that approved the annual budgets, and the audit reports submitted by the independent Swiss Auditors – proving the legal handling of the finances – were approved by the Congress.

“The claims against me are unfounded.

“During the investigation I fully cooperated with Mr McLaren and his team, however, much to my regret and despite my request they never provided me with the information that would have given me the possibility to disprove their statements, and they published the report without giving me the chance of clarification.

“Since I did not receive the report earlier, it will only be after having studied it thoroughly that I can give my position.

“For about half a century, I have spent all my professional career in service of sport, the Hungarian and international Olympic Movement, of weightlifting and the fight against doping.

“Even today, I am working for the benefit of sports, as President of the Hungarian Olympic Academy.

“I wish to continue my efforts in this direction.

“I would like to maintain a close relationship with the International Weightlifting Federation and the weightlifting family.

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