Weightlifting: IWF names investigator to probe suspended president
Richard McLaren, the Canadian lawyer whose investigative work did so much to expose state-sponsored doping in Russian sport, is to lead the independent investigation into allegations of corruption in weightlifting.
Insidethegames reports that McLaren’s appointment has been approved decisively by the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), and he and his team from McLaren Global Sport Solutions are due to start work on Monday.
Allegations of corruption in finance and anti-doping procedures involving the IWF, and of doping by children in Thailand, were made in the television documentary Secret Doping – Lord of the Lifters, which was shown by the German state broadcaster ARD on January 5.
The ARD team, led by Hajo Seppelt, was first to expose the extent of doping in Russia in a 2014 documentary, a precursor to the McLaren Report that led to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommending Russia be banned outright from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Cleared” Russians competed in most sports under a neutral flag but they were banned outright from athletics and weightlifting.
Seppelt’s team also revealed high-level corruption in 2015 that led to the arrest of Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations who is due to appear in court in Paris in June on charges of corruption and money-laundering linked to the Russian doping scandal.
Tamás Aján, who was the main target of the ARD programme, stood aside as President of the IWF last week, for 90 days, while the investigations are pending.
When Aján wrote to all Member Federations of the IWF five days after he was supposed to have stood down, signing himself as President and inviting them to send participants to an event that falls within the 90-day period, members of the Executive Board revealed they were considering a move to formally suspend him.
Yesterday the entire Executive Board of the Thailand Amateur Weightlifting Association, including the President Boossaba Yodbangtoey, resigned in the wake of allegations in the documentary of widespread doping in Thailand, sometimes by girls as young as 13.
Thailand is banned from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo because of its doping record, the worst in the sport in recent years.
A statement from the IWF said Professor McLaren had been appointed “to independently investigate allegations of impropriety surrounding President Dr Tamás Aján and the IWF.
“The documentary claimed leadership of the IWF, including President Ajan, participated in and/or had knowledge of financial irregularities, corruption, doping control distribution, doping sample manipulation, doping payment irregularities, doping activities in specific nations and nepotism.”
In announcing the appointment of McLaren, IWF Acting President Ursula Garza Papandrea said, “As I have said in the past, we need someone who is not a friend of weightlifting to look into these serious and historic allegations.
“But if we are to get to the bottom of this, we required an investigator whose findings will be trusted and undeniable. That is why we selected Professor McLaren.”