Tamas Ajan: International Weightlifting Federation president ‘corrupt at highest level’, independent report finds

Tamas Ajan joined the International Weightlifting Federation in 1976 and has served as president for the last 20 years

An independent report has found “corruption at the highest level” in international weightlifting.

It said former International Weightlifting Federation president Tamas Ajan, 81, operated a “culture of fear”.

Investigator, law professor Richard McLaren, said Hungarian Ajan interfered in anti-doping efforts and oversaw financial mismanagement in his pursuit of “absolute control”.

Ajan resigned from his role in April.

The investigation into the IWF began in February, following a documentary by German state broadcaster ARD called Secret Doping – Lord of the Lifters, which featured alleged corruption within the sport.

Among the findings, it concluded that:

  • Ajan personally collected all the doping violation fines
  • There is an estimated 10.5 million dollars from IWF accounts that are unaccounted for.
  • 40 positive tests, including two athletes who won world championship gold and silver medals, were covered up.

McLaren, who is from Canada, also led the investigation into the Russian doping scandal, which resulted in a four-year ban from all major sport for the country.

He served 24 years as the IWF general secretary and 20 as president, joining the organisation in 1976.

“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’s) 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.”

In a statement, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said it “welcomes the work that has been carried out” by McLaren.

“Once Wada has had the opportunity to review that evidence as well as the report in full, the agency will consider the next appropriate steps to take,” it added.

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