By Chidera Akalonu
The Independent Monitoring Group (IMG), created to review anti-doping work among the nine members of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) suspended in October of last year, has noted significant progress.
Upon suspension, all nine IWF members were provided with clear criteria they are required to fulfil, designed to ensure an appropriate balance between sanctions and support:
Making sure that entry of Doping Control Officers (DCOs) to the country selected by IWF is guaranteed without providing advance notice;
Ensuring that National Team Athletes train in areas which are accessible to DCOs;
Ensuring that there is no substantial delay in sample transportation due to customs issues;
Making its best efforts to include in its National Team, all Athletes who may compete at any IWF Events (in which the Federation is or might be entitled to participate);
Submitting accurate, complete and timely whereabouts for all National Team Athletes;
Sharing the dates and locations of training camps of the National Team Athletes with IWF on a timely basis;
Paying 50,000 USD to IWF as a contribution to IWF’s enhanced Anti-Doping Activity in the country (e.g. sample collection, AD-education);
Conducting prompt investigation and reporting to IWF regarding Athlete Support Personnel associated with ADRVs;
Promptly identifying to IWF all Athlete Support Personnel affiliated to the National Federation;
Assisting their NOC, NADO and IWF in maintaining Code Compliant status upon reasonable request;
Organisation of one Anti-Doping education seminar on national level in each four month period of the Suspension Period, under IWF supervision;
Undertaking to solely submit entries to IWF events (in which the suspended Federation is or might be entitled to participate) of Athletes who underwent at least three sample collections during the Suspension Period and where the samples when analysed in a WADA-Accredited Laboratory returned negative results;
Providing IWF with a list of Athletes the Federation wishes to enter to an IWF Event (in which it is or might be entitled to participate) at least three months before the Event. Such Athletes shall be immediately included in the Federation’s National Team if applicable.
As part of a continuous monitoring process in place since the suspensions took effect, the IMG (composed of independent anti-doping experts) has now found that three of the suspended members – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey – have met all the criteria to warrant the provisional restoration of some of their rights as members. This includes a conditional return of athletes to competition under stricter eligibility requirements compared to those regularly imposed by the IWF.
Turkey has been given the opportunity to participate with youth athletes at youth IWF events since 11 June 2018, and with junior and senior athletes and Technical Officials from 19 June 2018.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been given the opportunity to participate with youth athletes at youth IWF events from 19 June 2018 and with junior and senior athletes and Technical Officials from 19 August 2018.
The decision to favour youth athletes reflects a decision of the IWF Executive Board to provide additional opportunities for a young and demonstrably clean generation of young weightlifters who can serve as ambassadors for the sport in international competition.
Other rights of the three Member Federations remain suspended, including:
The right to organize IWF Events, IWF Congress, IWF Executive Board meetings, meetings of IWF Commissions and Committees;
The right to participate in the Congress with voting rights;
The right to submit proposals for inclusion in the Agenda of the Congress;
The right to submit proposals for the modification of the IWF Constitution, Technical and Competition Rules & Regulations;
The right to take part in and benefit from the IWF Development program apart from Education and Anti-Doping Seminars.
IWF President Tamas Ajan said: “The IWF notes that the Independent Monitoring Group has found significant progress in the anti-doping work of suspended members. We will continue to support all of our members in their efforts to protect clean athletes and promote sustained clean sport, ensuring long-term cultural change through a combination of measures including education in partnership with other Anti-Doping Organisations and proportionate sanctions. It is encouraging to see members take this message seriously.”
Strict monitoring of the criteria remains in place for all the nine Member Federations including those conditionally reinstated. The restoration of rights may be reversed by the IMG during the one-year suspension period.