In a German documentary, to be aired this Sunday, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and its long-time chief Tamas Ajan have been accused of harbouring a “culture of corruption” and doping cover-ups over years.
A report by journalists at German broadcaster ARD including Hajo Seppelt, who was the wrecker-in-chief in Russia’s large-scale doping scandal, claimed that prominent weightlifters were rarely subject to tests. On top of that, some doping controllers were allegedly taking cash to accept manipulated urine samples.
Seppelt and the ARD team produced a documentary film back in 2014 that had sparked an official investigation into state doping in Russia.
According to the report, nearly 450 Olympic and/or World Championship medallists between 2008 and 2017 were not even asked to go through any doping tests.
In fact, the doctor of the Moldovan national weightlifting team was caught on hidden camera talking about manipulation of urine samples and how to do it — including methods by getting lookalikes of athletes to provide the samples.
The undercover team apparently has also got Thailand’s Olympic bronze medallist Rattikan Gulnoi admitting to using steroids on film. Spanish Olympic gold medallist Lidia Valentin, twice named IWF female weightlifter of the year, as well, is among those who spoke out against the alleged corruption
According to the head of the German federation, Christian Baumgartner, the IWF’s chief was to blame. “Ajan stands for a system that has established doping in weightlifting over decades and that has gone off the rails for decades,” Baumgartner told ARD, adding that “a culture of corruption has spread”.
Ajan, 80, has been in the IWF’s management for over five decades now, since 1970. He took over as president of the federation in 2000. The IWF is yet to respond to the ARD team’s queries.