Investigation finds doping cover-ups in weightlifting

Updated Jun 05 2020

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Weightliftings reputation under Ajn had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008. — Reuters/File
Weightliftings reputation under Ajn had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008. — Reuters/File

BUDAPEST: An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren said Thursday.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were hidden in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

McLaren said former IWF president Tamas Ajan was an autocratic leader who kept the board in the dark about finances. Ajan received cash payments, some as much as $100,000, as doping fines from national federations or sponsors, McLaren said.

He said $10.4 million was unaccounted for.

Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers),” McLaren said. Some cash was accounted for, some was not.

McLaren said Ajan permitted the (federation) elections to be bought by vote brokers as he kept the presidency and promoted favored officials. Large cash withdrawals were made ahead of federation congresses, McLaren said, adding that voters were bribed and had to take pictures of their ballots to show to brokers.

The 81-year-old Ajan stepped down in April, ending a 20-year reign as president and a total 44 years in federation posts. A month before that he also gave up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.

McLaren’s investigation was sparked in January when German broadcaster ARD reported financial irregularities at the federation and apparent doping cover-ups.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s lead investigator for Russian doping and has judged cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Weightliftings reputation under Ajn had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020