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ITA alleges doping corruption in weightlifting

Three former leaders of sport charged with complicity and tampering offences

A culture of alleged corruption among international weightlifting officials was detailed on Thursday in an investigative report of covered-up doping cases for athletes who won Olympic and world titles.

Three of the sport’s long-time leaders — former International Weightlifting Federation president Tamas Ajan, vice president Nicolae Vlad and executive board member Hasan Akkus — were charged with a range of complicity and tampering offences under the World Anti-Doping Code.

Unresolved cases

Alleged misconduct for a decade up to 2019, including 146 unresolved doping cases, was laid out in a 50-page document. The investigation was run by the International Testing Agency (ITA) which manages anti-doping programs for Olympic sports.

Reasons for the failures to prosecute some doping cases ranged from “chaotic organisational processes” and errors to “outright negligence, complicity, or — at worst — blatant and intentional cover-ups,” ITA investigators wrote.

A total of 29 cases cannot be prosecuted due to destroyed evidence or expiring statute of limitations.

Ajan and Vlad were implicated in allowing a woman from Vlad’s home country Romania whom they knew was implicated in doping offences to compete and win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. The lifter, Roxana Cocos, was stripped of her medal years later when re-tests revealed her steroid use.

Four-year ban for Akkus

The ITA has proposed lifetime bans for Ajan and Vlad, while Akkus has been offered a four-year ban. If they don’t accept the bans, the ITA will prosecute the charges at the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s anti-doping tribunal.

Vlad was a gold medallist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and long-time ally of Ajan at the IWF.

Ajan was ousted after 20 years as IWF president in the fallout of the allegations first aired by German broadcaster ARD in January 2020.

The ITA investigation also details how weightlifting officials evaded World Anti-Doping Agency scrutiny over several years.

WADA said on Thursday it had in the past “limited powers to act against International Federations that engaged in the sort of behaviour that is alleged.”

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