Ursula Papandrea is out as IWF interim president. (ATR)
(ATR) The IOC says it is “very worried” about the decision of the International Weightlifting Federation Executive Board to replace interim president Ursula Papandrea.
USA Weightlifting is more blunt, calling it “a dark day for Weightlifting".
In a statement signed by USA Weightlifting president Paula Aranda and seven other board members, the organization said it strongly condemned the actions taken by the IWF.
“Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged that a majority of the IWF Executive Board continues to block efforts to create real and substantive change in the areas of governance, anti-doping reform and Athlete representation.
“These transparently corrupt actions serve only one purpose: rewarding and empowering nations who can only win by cheating.”
The IWF EB has appointed first vice president Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand to replace Papandrea, a move required by the federation's constitution.. But Around the Rings is told there will be another IWF board meeting on Thursday to try and elect another interim president.
A federation board member says Papandrea failed to communicate with the board. The no confidence vote was not close, according to a source, with 13 votes against Papandrea and three abstentions.
Papandrea, a former president of USA Weightlifting, has been leading a reform process within the federation following the resignation of Tamás Aján in April.
The IOC, in its statement, said that it enjoyed excellent cooperation with Papandrea “and is fully supportive of the reforms she has initiated in the IWF”.
The IOC added that while it “has not received all the information to fully assess the situation in its entirety…This incident and its consequences will, of course, be taken into consideration by the IOC Executive Board (EB) when it comes to take further decisions.”
The IWF is already on thin ice with the IOC due to the corruption, mismanagement and anti-doping deceptions during Ajan’s 20 year tenure as federation president.
The scope of the problem was revealed in June when anti-corruption expert Richard McLaren released his report following a four-month investigation.
The IOC EB, at its meeting last week, had called for continuing reforms within the IWF in order to ensure the independence of its anti-doping operations and the modernization of its governance and management structures.
It also expressed strong concerns about the need for further progress to reform the IWF constitution ahead of the IWF elections currently scheduled for March 2021.
With the IOC Executive Board due to decide quota places and events for Paris 2024 at its December meeting, the IOC has made it clear that quota places, events and even weightlifting’s place on the Olympic Program itself will depend on progress on the various reforms.
“The ongoing doping among weightlifters revealed by the IOC’s retesting of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 samples led to 56 fewer places for weightlifters in Tokyo 2020 compared to Rio 2016, with one medal event fewer,” Papandrea said last week. “I am under no illusions about the likely impact of any failure to act promptly on the IOC’s latest call to action.”
USA Weightlifting Chief Executive Officer Phil Andrews, who in April came on as interim deputy director general in a newly-created role to support Papandrea, announced his resignation from the IWF on Wednesday.
In a statement announcing the decision, Andrews said “it has become clear over recent months that not everyone has the best interests of the sport in mind and our attempts to reform the sport have been met with incredible resistance.
“In these challenging Covid-19 times, sport’s core principles of respect, collaboration and integrity have been ignored in favor of short-termism and greed that has become impossible to defy.”
Written by Gerard Farek
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