Sports

Weightlifting scandal: Former IWF boss, Ajan lifted self with over N168m after stepping down -Report reveals

The fractious relationship between the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and its disgraced former President Tamás Aján has worsened after further revelations by German investigative journalists.

Aján is said to have withdrawn more than a year’s salary from IWF funds shortly before he resigned as President in April.

At the time he had agreed to step aside as President and was not authorised to make financial transactions, according to a report on the website of state broadcaster ARD which claims that the IWF may sue Aján

The total amount withdrawn is said to have been €356,000 (£321,000/$420,000), (about N168m) a few thousand more than Aján’s annual salary when he was still in office.

The 81-year-old Hungarian, who had been general secretary and President of the sport’s governing body since 1976, resigned after ARD broadcast a documentary in January that alleged a series of corrupt practices.

The McLaren Report on Corruption in Weightlifting, published in June, found “systemic Government failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF”.

At least $10.4 million (£7.9 million/€8.8 million) was unaccounted for, more than 40 doping cases had been covered up, and the past two IWF Electoral Congresses had been blighted by vote-buying, the report said.

Aján was castigated by the Canadian professor of law Richard McLaren after the IWF Executive Board asked him to lead an investigation into the sport’s governance.

McLaren said Aján was an autocratic leader who ruled through “a culture of fear that prevented a vibrant and robust sports administration”.

The culture of fear pervaded even after Aján first stepped aside in late January, and throughout the corruption investigation, McLaren said.

It now appears that Aján also acted against the terms of reference of his stand-down period, according to the German reports.

The latest ARD report claimed the IWF Board “is convinced that Aján used the Federation’s coffers again before he was forced to resign from the Presidency”.

It allegeds he transferred several tranches to himself in February and March when “he was no longer authorised to conduct any financial transactions”.

Ursula Papandrea, the American who has been Acting and Interim President of the IWF since January 22, “was not informed” that Aján transferred his annual salary of €350,000 (£315,000/$413,000) plus a further €6,000 (£5,400/$7,100).

With so much money unaccounted for, the IWF is said to be considering a lawsuit against Aján.

Papandrea would not confirm or deny this, or comment on the decisions made during a recent online Board meeting, to ARD, claiming only that “the situation is developing”.

Papandrea declined to comment to insidethegames, and emphasised that any recent discussions by the IWF Executive Board were confidential.

Aján’s role in the corruption is being investigated by law enforcement agencies in Hungary and Switzerland, where the IWF is registered.

During recent weeks a number of governance reforms have been started by the IWF, including the setting-up of new commissions.

The election of the next permanent IWF President is expected to be in January.

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