Tamás Aján could face sanctions for an alleged breach of anti-doping rules ©IWF

The International Testing Agency (ITA) has been asked to investigate whether an anti-doping rule violation can be brought against disgraced former International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Tamás Aján after he allegedly covered up doping cases during his time at the world governing body.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general Olivier Niggli revealed the global watchdog had requested the ITA - which handles the IWF's anti-doping programme - "for its position on whether they could bring a case against Aján under anti-doping rules".

Niggli said WADA had also been in contact with the IWF to see whether the 81-year-old could face sanctions for breaches of "or other rules like code of ethics or other regulations at the IWF, in case they cannot do it under anti-doping rules".

Julien Sieveking, WADA's director of legal affairs, claimed during WADA's first virtual Foundation Board meeting today that Aján's behaviour could constitute tampering, an offence listed in the World Anti-Doping Code.

Sieveking said the fact the allegations made regarding the Hungarian's conduct predate the stricter compliance standards coming into effect in 2018 would make it difficult to pursue a case of non-compliance against the IWF.

He added, however, that WADA had essentially given the IWF six months to resolve "all open cases" and it could begin a non-compliance procedure if it considers this has not been "done properly" by the troubled Federation.

Aján resigned as IWF President in April after he was accused of corruption featuring financial malpractice, anti-doping cover-ups and vote-rigging in a report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, commissioned to investigate claims made in a documentary broadcast by ARD in Germany.

McLaren revealed 40 doping cases had been deliberately covered up by his team during the period under investigation, and news later emerged of another 130 "hidden" doping samples during the Hungarian's tenure.

WADA is investigating the accusations made against Aján, who served on the organisation's Foundation Board until 2018 and during the time the alleged offences occurred.

WADA's investigation into weightlifting will be considered by the IOC when it decides if the sport keeps its place on the Paris 2024 programme ©Getty Images
WADA's investigation into weightlifting will be considered by the IOC when it decides if the sport keeps its place on the Paris 2024 programme ©Getty Images

The probe by its intelligence and investigations department comprises four separate strands, including claims that a high-ranking member of the IWF was paid to promote Russian interests and to protect Russian athletes from detection.

An interim report published by WADA last month revealed "Russian entities" paid $5 million (£3.8 million/€4.2 million) between 2012 and 2016 to an unnamed high-ranking member of the IWF "to cover up allegations of doping by Russian weightlifters".

It also announced 18 weightlifters from six countries are suspected of providing manipulated urine after it discovered evidence of "doppelgangers" impersonating athletes.

The outcome of the WADA investigation will be considered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when it reviews the place of weightlifting on the Paris 2024 programme after the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year amid concerns it has with anti-doping and governance at the IWF.

The IOC has expressed its issues with recent developments regarding the IWF's governance after Ursula Papandrea, who served as Interim President, was removed and replaced by Thailand's Intarat Yodbangtoey - who was also accused of corruption in the McLaren Report.

Yodbangtoey then stepped down and was succeeded by British doctor Mike Irani.

"With regard to anti-doping, there are still many many questions open," IOC President Thomas Bach said after an Executive Board meeting yesterday.

"You know about the enquirIes going on by WADA in different countries, with regard to the role of IWF itself, there we have to wait for the results of these enquiries to see whether this can or must have consequences for the future.

"The Executive Board reaffirmed its position that after Tokyo, we will have to review the position of weightlifting on the programme for Paris 2024, taking into consideration the governance reforms and the results of the competition, whether we had clean competitions, and thirdly also taking into consideration the results of the enquiry which is underway by WADA."