Maxim Agapitov, left, and Phil Andrews, right, held joint talks in Anaheim ©USA Weightlifting

USA Weightlifting chief executive Phil Andrews and Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) President Maxim Agapitov have held talks to discuss the progress made by the latter in regards to its anti-doping reforms.

The pair met in Anaheim in California where the IWF World Championships are due to be hosted from November 29 to December 6 this year.

Andrews and Agapitov discussed a broad range of subjects during their meeting and talked about ways in which the two federations can work together in the future.

The progress made by the RWF in the fight against anti-doping was one of the key topics discussed.

Russia is appealing for leniency from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in attempting to have a one-year ban overturned.

The RWF has made a number of reforms in recent months, including the suspension and investigation of many leading coaches.

Agapitov, who became President of the RWF in November, says the new anti-doping programme is "an example others could follow".

"We hope the suspension will be overturned by the IWF," he said.

Agapitov is trying to change the culture of Russian weightlifting after a series of damning revelations that made 2016 arguably the worst year on record for Olympic weightlifting and for Russia in particular. 

Half of the 98 doping positives in retesting of samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games were provided by weightlifters. 

Last December Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the retesting "raises concerns with some countries, in particular Russia, and with regard to some sports, in particular weightlifting".

Russian weightlifters were banned from Rio 2016 by the IWF for bringing the sport into disrepute. 

Maxim Agapitov, right, and Phil Andrews, left, visited the Anaheim Convention Center, home of the 2017 IWF World Championships ©USA Weightlifting
Maxim Agapitov, right, and Phil Andrews, left, visited the Anaheim Convention Center, home of the 2017 IWF World Championships ©USA Weightlifting

Apart from the Olympic ban, Russia is one of nine nations due to be suspended for a year when the IOC-led retesting process is complete. 

The one-year bans will apply to all nations who had three or more positives in the retests.

These nations are Russia and Kazakhstan with 10 retests each, Belarus seven, Azerbaijan five, Armenia four and Turkey, Ukraine, China and Moldova three each. 

Russia, like Kazakhstan and Belarus, had originally contested its one-year ban but later withdrew its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Agapitov, the 1997 world champion, also took the opportunity to visit the competition site, and stayed at the main athlete hotel for the competition.

The Russian expressed his delight at the facilities provided by USA Weightlifting and Sports Anaheim for this year’s World Championships.

"In my opinion, a great venue for the World Championships has been chosen," Agapitov said.

"I imagine it should be fairly easy for all delegations to get to Anaheim.

"All the hotels are located within walking distance from each other and from the place of competition and training.

"The scale of the structure allows organising the competition without any restrictions.”

The two are planning to hold further talks in Russia in May where Andrews will be able to observe the progress made by the RWF.

Possibilities for joint sponsorship agreements, coaching education, athlete development and training opportunities were also discussed in Anaheim.