IOC cuts 64 weightlifters from the Olympics
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IOC cuts 64 weightlifters from the Olympics

IOC cuts 64 weightlifters from the Olympics

  • 14 Jun, 2017

IOC cuts 64 weightlifters from the Olympics

President Urso: “It was all on the cards”

"This is just the first instalment of the price we will have to pay for years of inadequate management"

To those who voted for me, who shared my vision for a more transparent governance of the IWF and a very strong stance against doping ………  I thank you sincerely.

The outcome of May 29th has not changed my resolve to continue to fight harder and work harder for our sport.

I was emphatic when I said that it was time to change and I was absolutely correct in my resolve.   

If you read the statement of the IOC President which only came out a few days ago,  he has effectively said that if weightlifting is not able to satisfy the IOC Executive Board by the 31st December, 2017 by addressing its integrity not just in doping but in other regards pertaining to its administration then 2020 could very well be the last Olympic Games for the sport of weightlifting.

So, I was right in what I said all along.   I will not stop now.   I will continue my fight until our sport is once again held high in esteem for the right reasons and not looked upon with great irreverence and ridicule.

The IOC has presented the IWF with a bill, in a timely, surgical and drastic manner, but it will be the entire weightlifting world who will suffer the consequences, not just Ajan and those who re-elected him. A cut of 64 athletes at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, and men's weightlifting will lose an entire weight class. We've gone down from 260 athletes at the previous Games to 196 at the next edition. A tough, drastic response and there's no going back. A curious follow up to the election of a person who has always boasted that weightlifting is in a strong position and not in any danger. It is definitely the worst start for a new four-year Olympic cycle, regardless of who is at the helm of the International Federation; however, there's no need for dissection or sarcasm, nor for exceptional political skills to observe that this is by no means great acknowledgement for the work done, apparently not so impeccably, in terms of development in favour of this sport, by the re-elected president.

Unfortunately, this is just the first instalment of the price we will have to pay for years of inadequate management, which has showcased our sport as a doping factory run by private power. So now, with what credibility will the IWF present a total reform project by 31 December 2017, capable of convincing the IOC to keep us in the 2024 Olympic programme? I refer to the very simple fact that, those elected to each statutory body at the congress in Bangkok, together represent a total of 200 cases of positive doping in recent years. Without a doubt, this is a disgraceful business card for the IOC. It would have been interesting to analyse the reform project of both candidates to the presidency, before the IWF elections took place; maybe the results would have been different. Or perhaps it was no coincidence that the IOC made this decision after the IWF elections.

President Bach's warning to the IWF was categorical, and never in its history has the IOC imposed such a tight time limit on an international federation.

We are the only sport to have suffered such a drastic cutback, approximately 30%, plus a weight class. While the other affected sports lost spots, nothing compared to weightlifting, they, on the other hand, gained medals. And the beauty of it is, that when presenting its IOC reform project, the IWF passes the weight class cut off as a victory for female weightlifting -  allow me to point out that the long-awaited equality came about by a men's class being cut, not by the addition of a women's class.

In 2008, I wrote an editorial in the EWF magazine which envisaged this very scenario. I remember very clearly that many, friends included, called me delusional, Cassandra was one of the nicer comments; however, today we are forced to take remedial action that in all honesty, I consider to be unacceptable, considering what the IOC is asking us to do with respect to the type of culture that gravitates around our sport.

I am also worried because this drastic reduction in the number of athletes at the Olympics, rather than discouraging doping, may actually make the phenomenon even worse. We all know how important taking part in the Olympics is, it is an essential goal in terms of acknowledgement from the Olympic Committees as regards Olympic training. In countries with the highest number of positive cases, weightlifting represents the sport in which perhaps not the only, but certainly the few Olympic medals are won, and I do not think that they will give this up too easily. I cannot even imagine being excluded from the Olympic Games; our Federation would lose such vital financial resources.

We will never know for sure, but I find it difficult to believe that the IWF had not been tipped off by the IOC regarding its impending decisions; just imagine if this news had arrived the day before the IWF elections, instead of one week after; the IOC would certainly not have changed its mind, but perhaps the history of the IWF and of the weightlifting world would have been altered.

Dear friends, usually those who are right even in hindsight as far as their ego is concerned, should also take pleasure in revenge; I must admit that this news from the IOC has left me utterly saddened, because if certain people had been a little more farsighted and a lot less thirsty for power, today we would be talking about something different. Obviously, this sport needs to be completely reset in order to start over again with new rules and, more importantly, new people.