Intarat Yodbangtoey has denied any involvement in bribery and corruption at the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) electoral congress, and says he has been insulted and dishonoured.
Yodbangtoey, who is First vice-president of the IWF, told a media conference in Bangkok, the Thai capital, that he would consult his counsel with a view to taking legal action.
The McLaren report into weightlifting corruption, published last week, twice named Yodbangtoey in its revelations of vote-buying by the IWF’s former President Tamás Aján at the Congress three years ago.
Yodbangtoey followed his wife’s lead by blaming the foreign media for damaging his and his country’s reputation in reporting on corruption in the sport.
He denied having paid bribes to gain his position as First vice-president, the second-highest elected position in the IWF after President, though neither the McLaren report nor any media reports have claimed that he did so.
The report’s findings related to the paying out of cash for votes bought by Aján, the 81-year-old Hungarian who was the main focus of the McLaren investigation.
Aján, who resigned in April after decades of "autocratic" rule, paid bribes of $5,000 (£3,920/€4,400) to $30,000 (£23,520/€26,415) to swing the 2017 election in his favour and defeat his rival Antonio Urso, the McLaren team found.
In a section headed "Cash for votes: Rigging Electoral Congresses," the report said, "In 2017… witnesses observed delegates queuing in a corridor at the hotel following the vote to get their promised cash.
"The vote broker distributing the $5,000 cash bribe from a bag in his possession in 2017 was said to be Major General Intarat Yodbangtoey, the 1st vice president of the IWF."
In another mention, McLaren reports: "Major General Intarat Yodbangtoey was overheard by confidential witnesses telling the Ugandan Weightlifting Federation’s President Salim Musoke Ssenkungu that the money had run out and that he would have to come back later.
"Mr Ssenkungu responded by saying 'I want my money now; I've voted for you.'"
The bribed delegates voted for Aján as President and for a pre-ordained team in other positions, but there was no specific mention of First vice-president in this respect, nor could there have been as Yodbangtoey stood alone for the position.
Yodbangtoey also told the conference that there was an electoral commission from Switzerland that would have reported to the Congress immediately if there had been "any suspicions or doubts."
He said delegates had been reimbursed for air fares and other expenses, and that an individual who claimed to have been bribed had since emailed Yodbangtoey to "insist his sincerity."
Yodbangtoey told reporters he had reached a "breaking point" in his relationship with Aján in 2018 when he voted in favour of an independent body, the International Testing Agency, taking over the IWF’s anti-doping procedures.
Yodbangtoey has held high office in the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association (TAWA), the Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) and the IWF for many years.
His wife Boossaba was President of TAWA when, on January 5, the German state broadcaster ARD aired a documentary about corruption in weightlifting, which featured a secret recording with a Thai Olympic medallist, Siripuch Gulnoi.
In that interview Gulnoi admitted doping and said she had had "a jaw like a man and a moustache" as a teenager.
She said doping was part of weightlifting in Thailand, that some girls started doping at the age of 13 for national competitions, and that "those responsible couldn't care less about health."
Teenagers were caught up in a doping scandal in Thailand in 2011, and Olympic and world champions were involved in another scandal at the 2018 IWF World Championships where nine members of Thailand’s team tested positive.
Thailand cannot compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games because it has been suspended for three years for those doping violations.
A TAWA statement complained that Gulnoi had been "cheated" by ARD’s undercover journalist, that the programme featured "manipulated" shots and its content had destroyed Thailand’s reputation.
Despite that, Boossaba and her entire Executive Board resigned from TAWA on January 30.
An "independent" Thai inquiry into Gulnoi’s interview found there had been no wrongdoing, Intarat announced in early March.
Far from resigning, Intarat said he would stand in the next IWF elections for President or vice-president, and that he wanted "to create unity in the world of weightlifting."
He also said he was continuing to contest Thailand’s ban from the sport and the dossier of evidence that would be presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport now ran to more than 1,000 pages.
As First vice-president, Intarat should have taken command of the IWF when Aján stood aside in January but, with Thailand suspended, the Acting (now Interim) President role went to the American Ursula Papandrea.
The IWF Board, under Papandrea, asked McLaren to conduct the investigation as a direct result of the German documentary.
McLaren’s team found that more than $10 million (£7.83 million/€8.80 million) was unaccounted for over the past 10 years of Aján's 44-year reign at the IWF, that there had been doping cover-ups, and that elections had been rigged by bribery and corruption.
The IWF is faced with the formidable task of reorganising and restructuring its governance, and improving weightlifting’s image while many national federations are led by people believed to have been complicit in the corruption.
After the publication of the report McLaren, the Canadian professor of law who played a lead role in exposing state-sponsored cheating in Russia, said, "In the case of the IWF, the Acting President Ursula Papandrea is now facing the task of reforming an organisation which has former Aján supporters and even a known corrupt member on the Executive Board.
"It will be interesting to see where that goes."