Weightlifting: Federation plagued by decades of corruption, says investigation

TORONTO (Reuters) – The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) was plagued by corruption orchestrated by autocratic former president Tamas Ajan, said Richard McLaren who led an independent investigation into the governing body.

McLaren, the Canadian law professor whose findings led to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommending Russia be banned from the 2016 Olympic Games, told reporters on Thursday that the IWF was rife with corruption.

This included vote buying, doping coverups and $10.4 million in cash that cannot be accounted for.

Ajan, who served 24 years as IWF general secretary and 20 as president until resigning in April, has denied any wrongdoing.

“I found an organisation that had been subject for close to half a century to an autocratic leader who dictated through various control mechanisms everything that occurred within the organisation,” said McLaren in a Zoom conference.

“His (Ajan) obsession with control made it a culture of fear that prevented a vibrant and robust sports administration.

“We found systemic government failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF.”

The 81-year-old Hungarian Ajan had been at the IWF since 1976.