Corruption at the International Weightlifting Federation by Former President

Corruption at the International Weightlifting Federation by Former President

An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) by University of Western Ontario law professor, Richard McLaren found the IWF was plagued by decades of corruption, doping coverups, favourtism, and financial mismanagement orchestrated by the IWF’s former president, Dr. Tamás Aján.

The McLaren Report detailed the results of the investigation in a 122 page report made public in June 2020. The following discussion is taken from the executive summary of the McLaren Report:

Dr. Aján’s autocratic authoritarian leadership of the International Weightlifting Federation resulted in a dysfunctional, ineffective oversight of the organisation by the Executive Board, which had an ill-informed understanding of the organisation. This was achieved through various control mechanisms. As a consequence, Dr. Aján disabled anyone other than himself from understanding the overall affairs of the IWF.

The foundational control mechanism used by Dr. Aján was the tyranny of cash. Cash collected, cash withdrawn, and cash unaccounted for, which Dr. Aján was the sole collector. The primary sources of this cash were doping fines paid personally to the President and cash withdrawals of large amounts from the IWF’s accounts, usually withdrawn before major competitions or IWF congresses. It is absolutely impossible to determine how much of the cash collected or withdrawn was used for legitimate expenses. The McLaren Independent Investigation Team has determined that $10.4 million USD is unaccounted for.

Weightlifting has a history of use of performance enhancing drugs. Over 600 lifters in the past decade have tested positive. While Dr. Aján has impermissibly interfered with the IWF Anti-Doping Commission, the real problem is the culture of doping that exists in the sport. The investigation uncovered 40 positive Adverse Analytical Findings hidden in the IWF records. This includes gold and silver medalists who have not had their samples dealt with. This information has been passed on to WADA for further investigation.

HUNADO is not the cause of doping sample manipulation or hidden results. It has operated in compliance with WADA standards. The investigation found that the procedures followed by Doping Control Officer Barbara Kallo were correct and in accordance with the WADA Code. The source of antidoping issues that have plagued the IWF and sport of weightlifting lie elsewhere. HUNADO and its DCOs are not the cause of the positive testing results or the alleged influence on weightlifters to be tested.

The financial records are a jumble of incomplete and inaccurate figures distorted by a failure to accurately record cash expenditures and revenues and disclose hidden bank accounts by Dr. Aján.

The two most recent Electoral Congresses were rampant with vote buying for the President and senior level positions of the Executive Board, despite monitoring. Such actions are a fundamental violation of the sport’s By-Laws on Disciplinary and Ethics Procedures.