Weightlifting will hand over its anti-doping programme to an Independent Testing Authority ©Getty Images

Weightlifting will hand over its anti-doping programme to an Independent Testing Authority (ITA) as a keystone of its plans to clean up the sport and retain its place on the Olympic Games schedule.

Several senior figures in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) have spoken in the past two years of the need to put the testing programme in independent hands, and in Bucharest the sport confirmed its intent to do so.

Advice from independent experts from Germany, Canada and the United States in doping, sports ethics and sports law was presented to the IWF Executive Board at a two-day extraordinary meeting.

Those experts were appointed by the IWF recently to a Clean Sport Commission, which will advise the IWF over the next two months before the December deadline to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that weightlifting should retain its Olympic status.

The threat of being dropped by the IOC followed a series of doping scandals, most notably 24 positives at the 2015 World Championships and 49 positives in the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

Thomas Bach, the IOC President, said weightlifting had a "massive doping problem".

The Executive Board voted unanimously to back plans for a switch to an ITA. 

Aquatics and athletics have made similar moves to appoint independent bodies in their anti-doping programmes.

Tamás Aján, President of the IWF, was "greatly encouraged" by the work of the Clean Sport Commission.

"In a very short space of time they have already begun to identify improvements we can make that will protect and benefit our sport," he said.

"It is important that we put the measures in place to ensure our sport is clean today and in the future. 

"This has been a very productive meeting for the IWF and we have been greatly encouraged by the progress that has been made."

In a statement after the meeting, the IWF said: "The Commission aims to identify innovative and pioneering ways to protect clean athletes by making anti-doping testing more accurate, more efficient and more transparent."

It recommended potential changes in the IWF anti-doping policy, anti-doping education, shifting the culture through targeted spread of knowledge, sample collection and analytical innovations.

The International Swimming Federation, the governing body of aquatics, was helped in revising its anti-doping process by Richard Young, one of the world's top sports lawyers who is now a key figure on the IWF’s Clean Sport Commission.

The IWF Executive Board has met in Romanian capital Bucharest ©IWF
The IWF Executive Board has met in Romanian capital Bucharest ©IWF

There was also a presentation by the IWF Sport Programme Commission, whose primary focus is to decide on the bodyweight categories for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where weightlifting will have seven men's and seven women's medal events, one fewer than Rio 2016.

This Commission, said the IWF in a statement, "will also look beyond 2020 and identify innovative ways to refresh the event programme to make it more attractive to global audiences".

More details will be released during the next two months, and the Executive Board will meet again in late November before the IWF World Championships in Anaheim, California.

Those Championships will go ahead without nine top nations, who were banned for a year at the Bucharest meeting yesterday for having three or more positives in the IOC retests.

Another decision of the Board was to award the 2018 Junior World Championships to Uzbekistan.

North Korea had provisionally been awarded the hosting rights but political difficulties have made that impossible.

In other business in Bucharest the Board appointed chairs for a number of its Commissions.

Pyrros Dimas of Greece will chair the Athletes' Commission with Tom Goegebuer of Belgium serving as deputy.

The Women's Commission will be chaired by American Ursula Papandrea while Birendra Prasad of India will head the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission.

The Czech Republic's Petr Krol will chair the Membership Commission while the Development and Education Commission and Marketing Commission will be led by Peru's Jose Quinones and Zhanat Tussupbekov of Kazakhstan respectively.

Aján will chair the Intercontinental Committee with Egypt's Mamal Mahmoud Mahgoub in charge of the Coaching and Research Committee.

Karoliina Lundahl of Finland will serve under Mahgoub as deputy.