The International Weightlifting Federation's new Athletes Commission is being chaired by Sarah Davies ©Getty Images

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has named the 10 members of its new Athletes Commission, which features men and women from all five continental federations.

The new Commission will be chaired by Sarah Davies, one of Britain’s top weightlifters who has been athletes’ representative on her national federation for three years.

China’s 2012 Olympic Games champion Lyu Xiaojun, one of the sport’s biggest stars of the 21st century, represents Asia alongside Hiromi Miyake of Japan.

From Europe the members are Jurgen Spiess of Germany and Dora Tchakounte of France, from Africa Forrester Osei of Ghana and Mona Pretorius of South Africa, from the Americas Fernando Reis of Brazil and Marina Rodrigues Mitjan of Cuba and from Oceania Damon Kelly of Australia and Megan Signal of New Zealand.

"It was a bit of a surprise to be appointed chair, and an honour – it’s not something I expected," said Davies, who like many of her fellow members is on course to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

She said she expects doping to be top of the agenda when the new Commission starts its work, beginning with online meetings, in the coming weeks.

"The biggest area we need to target as a sport and as an Athletes Commission is doping," said Davies, who attended the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) athletes’ forum in Lausanne last year as an IWF representative.

"It’s rife within the sport right now and it’s being talked about all the time whenever weightlifting is mentioned.

"We want to talk about how we can make meaningful changes.

"It also helps just having athletes there, role models if you like, on this Commission so other athletes can talk to them, give them some guidance."

Jurgen Spiess is one of two European representatives on the new IWF Athletes Commission ©Getty Images
Jurgen Spiess is one of two European representatives on the new IWF Athletes Commission ©Getty Images

Her experience with British Weightlifting has been useful for her new role, Davies said, "especially being involved in the back and forth of communications between the athletes and the federation earlier this year when coronavirus led to so much disruption and the Olympics being delayed."

Davies also said the chance for athletes to give feedback on international competitions had been especially useful.

This is the first time athletes have been given a meaningful voice in the IWF.

Jurgen Spiess welcomed a chance to be involved in decision-making and said the IWF, under the rule of disgraced former President Tamás Aján, was "very opaque and closed to all outside parties."

"What this led to is now known," he said of the scandalous revelations last January – missing millions, doping cover-ups, rigged elections – that led to Aján's departure after 44 years as general secretary and President of the IWF.

"The Athletes Commission will be an important and helpful piece of the mosaic in the political restart of the IWF," said Spiess.

"This is very important because athletes have a different view of things.

"Athletes should not run associations, but they can make the leaders understand the things that they lose sight of too often and too quickly. For athletes, sport comes first.

"In addition, athlete representatives are replaced more regularly because the time as an athlete is limited. As a result, as we say in Germany, there will always blow a ‘fresh wind’ through the IWF."

Ursula Papandrea, the IWF’s Interim President who highlighted the need to give athletes a voice in the immediate aftermath of the January scandal, said: "We are delighted to get to work in ensuring greater athlete representation in our sport’s governance.

Fernando Reis is one of two representatives from the Americas on the IWF Athletes Commission ©Getty Images
Fernando Reis is one of two representatives from the Americas on the IWF Athletes Commission ©Getty Images

"We feel strongly that the athlete voice must be heard in our ongoing reform and governance changes.

"The quality and calibre of the candidates give us much confidence that our sport has a bright future in their hands."

There were nominations from 30 nations, and with so many to choose from the IWF Executive Board decided to consider candidates only from countries with no representation on the Board.

"In doing so, the IWF has been able to diversify its membership," said Papandrea.

The new Commission starts life on an interim basis, and a "formalised election procedure" will follow in due course.

The IWF’s formal description of the role of the Commission is: "The Athletes Commission will provide the voice and view of the athlete to each of the current standing committees and commissions.

"Additionally, they will be solicited for agreement by a majority on all reform and governance documents, and qualification documents created between now and the subsequent election.”

Davies said: "The future of weightlifting now is looking better.

"We don’t know exactly how the IOC view weightlifting’s future as an Olympic sport but hopefully the changes being made, including the creation of this new commission, will all add up to a brighter future for the sport."