The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Has expressed its concerns over the ouster of Ursula Papandrea as the interim president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Papandrea was replaced by Intarat Yodbangtoey in the post.
The game’s spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games remains under scrutiny since the IOC says that the leadership change in such a swift manner will "of course be taken into consideration" when it comes to future decisions.
The IWF Executive Board voted against Papandrea and she was removed as the interim president of the IWF after an emergency meeting was called yesterday.
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The IOC said Papandrea always gave "excellent cooperation" and that it was "fully supportive" of the changes she put in place at the global body.
Yodbangtoey replacing Papandrea is also problematic in the eyes of the IOC because he was named as an accused in the McLaren Report, that revealed the level of corruption in the IWF and eventually led to the resignation of President Tamás Aján. His home country Thailand’s weightlifters have been banned from the Tokyo Games because of their poor doping record.
Papandrea was serving as the IWF's acting leader since January, when Aján stepped from his presidential position after revelations surrounding corruption in the 44-year he was general secretary and president at IWF.
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Yesterday's IWF meeting was called after an email was sent to weightlifting officials, claiming that many in the Board who were against Papandrea were looking for ways to change the Olympic qualifying and anti-doping rules "for personal benefit".
Papandrea was not a part of the meeting and the IOC has expressed its disappointment after the American's departure.
"The IOC is very worried to learn about the reported decision made by the Board of the International Weightlifting Federation to replace the Acting President, Ms Ursula Garza Papandrea, the way the decision was taken and the chosen replacement," the IOC said.
"Currently the IOC 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.”
"At their meeting last week, the IOC EB stressed the critical importance of continuing reforms within the IWF in order to ensure the independence of its anti-doping operations and the modernisation of its governance and management structures.
"With regard to anti-doping, while noting that the IWF has appointed the International Testing Agency (ITA) to independently manage all elements of its anti-doping programme, including following up on the allegations made in the report by Prof. McLaren, the IOC EB stressed two important points.
"The importance of maintaining the link, in the IWF's Tokyo 2020 qualification system, between the quota places available for each National Olympic Committee and their history of doping offences on the one hand; and the need to ensure the independence of the IWF anti-doping system beyond the present contract with the ITA – which is due to expire at the end of 2020 – as well as the delegation of disciplinary proceedings to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, on the other hand.
"With regard to governance, the IOC EB noted the positive commitments previously made.
"It expressed strong concerns about the need for further progress to reform the IWF constitution ahead of the potential IWF elections, and any lack of acceptance of independent advice in this procedure.
"Another point reiterated during the EB meeting was the importance of athletes' representation within all appropriate Commissions and Committees of the Federation. These areas of concern were communicated to the IWF.
"The federation was also informed that the IOC, while currently reviewing the event programme and athlete quotas for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, would reserve the right to take further measures depending on any future developments, including, but not limited to, a review of the place of weightlifting on the programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and consideration of the Paris 2024 event programme and athlete quotas, which will be determined in December 2020."
When asked about India’s stance on the ousting of the interim president, Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) Secretary General Sahdev Yadav told Newsclick, "India accept the Executive Board's decision to remove the interim president from her duty. We have no further comment."
The IWF will go through extensive restructuring in the Electoral Congress, which is likely to take place in March next year.
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