International Olympic Committee member Adam Pengilly, left, has given his backing to weightlifting retaining its Olympic status ©USA Weightlifting/Twitter

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Adam Pengilly has given his backing to weightlifting retaining its Olympic status but believes the sport should be kept on "quite a strict probation".

The Briton was speaking to insidethegames during a visit here to the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships, due to conclude on Tuesday (December 5) - the day the IOC begins its two-day Executive Board meeting that will determine the sport's Olympic future after Tokyo 2020.

The threat of weightlifting being dropped from the Olympic programme follows a series of doping scandals, most notably 24 positives at the 2015 World Championships and 49 positives in the re-testing of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in Beijing and London respectively.

A total of nine nations, including China and Russia, are missing from this year’s World Championships after incurring one-year bans for multiple doping offences.

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

He called for a "satisfactory" report from the IWF on how it intended to deal with doping in future and that was sent to the IOC last Wednesday (November 29) by Attila Adamfi, the world governing body’s director general.

The final amendments were made after the IWF Congress here in Anaheim last Monday (November 27), when the latest in a long line of changes to the sport were approved.

The main changes highlighted in the report sent by Adamfi focus on a new hard-line approach to doping, including the handing over of the IWF’s anti-doping programme to an Independent Testing Authority.

Pengilly thinks the IWF is moving in the right direction and has done enough to maintain weightlifting's Olympic status for now.

"There seems to be a 'we’re not just doing this because we’ve been told to do it’," he told insidethegames.

"There seems to be a desire to clean up the sport.

"I think given the changes that they have made and the strength of decisions that they’ve made recently with the nine countries not being here, shows their commitment to dealing with this problem.

"If it was me that was making that call, I would allow them in, but I would keep them on quite a strict probation.

"Let’s look at what we need to do next and keep the tension there and keep pushing because I don’t want anyone to sit back and say 'Oh we’re in, great, fine, we’re okay now'.

"That complacency, there can be none of that, and I’m not saying they are complacent at all."

The 2017 IWF World Championships are currently taking place in Anaheim ©IWF
The 2017 IWF World Championships are currently taking place in Anaheim ©IWF

The IWF Clean Sport Commission has held a number of meetings this year and, following an extensive analysis of the anti-doping efforts in weightlifting over the last 10 years, presented what the world governing body describes as its "innovative and pioneering" recommendations to the IWF Executive Board here.

The Commission determined that while significant improvements have been made in the IWF weightlifting programme since London 2012, there is scope to do a lot more work to combat doping.

Key recommendations of the Commission include contracting with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and collaborating with the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to develop increased and more effective no notice out-of-competition testing in high-risk countries

Among the others is the implementation of new rules in the IWF anti-doping policy to send a clear deterrent message to countries that if they do not fulfil their anti-doping responsibilities to ensure that their athletes are clean, they will lose their right to participate in international competition for a period up to four years.

The latest instalment of the WADA legacy outreach programme is being delivered at the event here, showcasing a bid to raise awareness and promote clean sport to a generation of athletes.

"I think they [the IWF] are making some good strides forward," Pengilly, a member of the WADA Foundation Board, added.

"They’ve had to. 

"They’ve been forced to. 

"I wish it had been them that had chosen to do it rather than us at the IOC that have pushed them into it, but they are making some big steps and I think even before we had pushed, they were already doing some things, like the national federation ban for a certain number of countries for a 12-month period.

"I think that’s a really positive thing and an important thing that other sports could look to see if that’s something that they need to be doing."

United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun said last week he believes the IWF has shown "real mettle" in terms of the decisions it has made in aiming to preserve weightlifting's Olympic status.

Blackmun was also speaking to insidethegames during a visit here to the World Championships.

He was a spectator for the women’s 63 kilograms B group session, sat alongside IWF President Tamás Aján and USA Weightlifting head Ursula Garza Papandrea.

Adamfi and USA Weightlifting chief executive Phil Andrews were also in close proximity and in discussion with Blackmun.