IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell noted the IWF's "very strong" progress ©Getty Images

Very strong progress has been made by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) but the sport's place on the programme for Paris 2024 remains conditional, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board announced here today.

Four requirements were outlined by the IOC last December for the IWF to stay on the programme following concerns over anti-doping.

These are the full implementation of the recommendations from the Independent Clean Sport Commission and the Sport Programme Commission, the completion of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code compliance monitoring programme and the submission of a questionnaire report on corrective actions.

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell revealed the IOC Executive Board had noted the progress made by the IWF in bolstering anti-doping measures.

"The inclusion of weightlifting at Paris 2024 was conditional to the satisfaction of the IOC Executive Board to address the anti-doping issues in the sport," McConnell said.

"The review has continued since mid-2017.

"It was noted there has been very, very strong and positive progress made in this regard.

"The Board noted the work in particular of the IWF Sport Programme Commission, which implemented the qualification system for Tokyo [2020].

"This was very positively received earlier in the year when it was approved as it does, in the quota allocation, reward countries that have had clean weightlifters in the past.

"It also noted the very good work that has been done and is ongoing with the independent clean sport commission, which brings together independent experts on the revised anti-doping policies."

Praise for the Tokyo 2020 qualification process included the "Tbilisi decision", which saw nine nations banned for one year, having had three or more Olympic positives in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 retests.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine were the nine suspended.

A partnership agreement between the IWF and the International Testing Agency (ITA), which will see the latter assume responsibility for key areas of the world governing body's anti-doping programme, also received praise.

The ITA’s remit includes carrying out a detailed risk assessment, test distribution planning and management, out-of-competition testing, Therapeutic Use Exemption management, and support with regard to the IWF’s education programmes.

The ITA is due begin its work on January 1 next year.

Reports on the final doping sample analysis from the IWF World Championships will be assessed by the IOC ©Ashgabat 2018
Reports on the final doping sample analysis from the IWF World Championships will be assessed by the IOC ©Ashgabat 2018

Policies including requirements on whereabouts information for weightlifters to be provided two months before IWF events, as well as three months before World Championships, was also viewed as a strong development.

McConnell noted, however, that there had been "confusion" at the IWF World Championships after ineligible weightlifters from the home nation Turkmenistan were allowed to take part in an "exhibition".

It followed a vote by the IWF Executive Board, although it was believed the decision was made against the advice of the IWF secretariat, who advised that the hosts should be treated the same as everybody else.

The four Turkmen weightlifters were able to take part as "extras", despite a further 75 international athletes being barred from participating, having also failed to log their whereabouts information on the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System - also known as ADAMS.

The IWF had reveled at the Championships that the "extras" would still be subject to doping controls.

"At the same time as noting these very positive steps that have taken place this year, the Board did also note the issue that occurred with the Turkmenistan athletes who competed in an exhibition capacity at the World Championships in Ashgabat," McConnell said.

"This did cause concern in regard to the confusion it created regarding the status of those athletes who had not fulfilled the whereabouts requirements correctly prior to the event.

"And also the misunderstanding and confusion that came from their involvement in an exhibition capacity.

"We understand this was not part of the official competition but having athletes who were not eligible to compete in the competition did cause some concern.

"We are also waiting for the final sample analysis to come through from the World Championships."

The Executive Board highlighted an issue at the recent IWF World Championships in Ashgabat as one of the reasons why the provisional status was maintained ©Getty Images
The Executive Board highlighted an issue at the recent IWF World Championships in Ashgabat as one of the reasons why the provisional status was maintained ©Getty Images

The IOC Executive Board will continue to monitor the implementation of the steps taken by the IWF.

Reports on final analysis of the samples collected at the World Championships will be assessed by the IOC, along with a review of the early stages in the transition of the anti-doping programmes and processes of the IWF across to the ITA.

Weightlifting’s status on the Paris 2024 programme will be assessed at the next IOC Executive Board meeting in March 2019.

"Recent years have seen a very big shift in the way weightlifting views doping, and it is pleasing to see the IOC has recognised that the IWF has become a leading international sports federation when it comes to this important work," said IWF President Tamás Aján.

“What we have created to ensure clean weightlifting goes far beyond a simple list of measures, projects and initiatives. 

"Instead, we have worked to ensure a global culture for weightlifting that is based on self-respect, the respect for fellow competitors and the respect for our sport that can be achieved through clean training and competition. 

"It is a culture that we are committed to maintaining and to developing further.

“The IWF is grateful to IOC President Thomas Bach, to the Executive Board and to the IOC administration for its continued support. The fight against doping is one that fought in partnership with many allies and the IWF will continue to do everything we can to be a determined and effective partner to the IOC, to WADA and to others.”