Hasan Akkus has made a strong rebuttal of claims, based on the contents of the McLaren Report on weightlifting corruption, that he is an unworthy candidate for the Presidency of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF).
Akkus stands in tomorrow’s election against two rivals, Maxim Agapitov of Russia and Antonio Conflitti of Moldova.
He is promoting a wide range of campaign points including payments for technical officials, financial support for nations that host continental Championships, and finding a place for weightlifting in the European Games.
But his worthiness as a leader of the EWF has been questioned by Conflitti.
The Moldovan wrote to all of Europe’s National Federations suggesting that Akkus had been part of a "culture of corruption, lies and deception" in weightlifting and attaching five pages of the McLaren Report that focus on Turkish athletes.
Akkus was President of the Turkish Weightlifting Federation (TWF) when, according to the McLaren Report, 26 doping positives between 2010 and 2012 went unreported and Turkish athletes were allowed to compete and win medals when they should have been suspended.
He says this is not true, that the TWF received no notification about any cases in 2010, and that he and the TWF did all that it should have done when Turkish weightlifters tested positive.
The current regime at the Turkish Federation, supported by its National Anti-Doping Agency (NADO), has written to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) "requesting correction of the report" says Akkus, who has been general secretary of the EWF for nine years.
He did not name Conflitti but complained about those who "promote nonfactual, arrogant, manipulated stories" and said they were projecting a bad image for weightlifting.
"It is very clear that some people don’t like a democratic election."
Akkus, 58, an academic who has had dozens of scientific papers published, told insidethegames that the International Testing Agency (ITA) was holding its own investigation after the publication of the McLaren Report last June.
"Each case (of the 26) is being closed, one by one," Akkus said.
"I am sure in one or two months it will be finalised.
"The athletes with positive samples never competed anywhere."
What of the two who, according to the McLaren Report, won European and World medals after testing positive, when they should have been suspended?
"Unfortunately that is wrong.
"We did not receive any notification about this from the IWF.
"If we received notification we did what we should do.
"All athletes were suspended on time but I don’t understand why the IWF Secretariat did not close these cases on its database."
All the samples mentioned in the McLaren Report were taken by the IWF at the request of the Turkish Federation, in the days before Turkey had a NADO, and were "internal testing", Akkus said.
He pointed to the 2015 suspension of Melih Akin, who was banned by the IWF for eight years - the length of a suspension for a second offence - despite there being no other sanction against him listed on the IWF website.
"Why eight years?" said Akkus.
"Because he was suspended by the Turkish Federation in 2012, and we informed the IWF at the time.
"If the IWF was not aware of this (suspension imposed by Turkey) why did it suspend Akin for eight years?
"Unfortunately McLaren did not ask any questions about doping to the Turkish Federation.
"It’s a shame that McLaren wrote the Report when Turkey tried to help, but all they asked about was money because they found in the accounts that we had paid the IWF in cash.
"We explained why we paid it - anti-doping fees, part of entry fees, two or three times the $5,000 (£3,630/€4,260) fine for individual doping violations.
"It was very clear.
"But he never asked a question about the positive cases.
"Nobody is an idiot to leave the doping cases open."
A spokesman for the McLaren investigative team said: "We stand by what is said in the report and these matters are under active investigation by ITA with our co-operation."
Comment has been sought by insidethegames from the ITA.
Akkus said rumours about Turkish doping cases had surfaced long before the McLaren Report, most notably when an unsigned email was sent anonymously to EWF delegates.
He explained what had happened regarding the 2010-2012 "internal testing" to the EWF Board before the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia in 2013.
"In 2016 I was candidate again for general secretary but that time nobody used it.
"It’s very strange.
"These people know it is only speculation."
Akkus, who resigned as President of the TWF in 2013, said he had always struggled to combat doping in Turkish weightlifting, which took roots when "we had a lot of coaches from Bulgaria."
He was a leading supporter of the new NADO in 2011, having known for years that it would take Turkish weightlifting years to rid itself of doping.
He said he was often criticised for Turkey’s perceived lack of success on the platform after he took charge of the TWF in 2004.
"I tried to explain the situation, to say that we need time, we need to change the culture, we need more than a training system and relying all the time on the drugs," said Akkus.
"Many times I discussed with the Government and others that things were very dangerous, that there was a doping culture in weightlifting.
"Sometimes the Government thought it was just me complaining, they didn’t understand what was happening.
"Turkish Parliament created a Commission to investigate all doping.
"Eventually they changed the system completely and now it’s very good, much better.
"When I look back I think I had a big challenge, and also a big success."
On his EWF campaign pledges, Akkus said weightlifting should try to become part of the European Games, which is next due to be held in 2023.
Another priority was to give athletes voting rights on the Executive Board.
"We should listen to them and provide what they need," he said.
He also recommended paying technical officials for their time, currently given free, in helping to make competitions a success.
"They are giving up time and therefore money to weightlifting," said Akkus.
"If I was elected I would provide money for them."
Current conditions make it very expensive for hosts of the senior European Championships because of TV coverage costs, he said, "so we have to find a way to support the host country.
"Otherwise, in the current economic situation, it is not easy to find a country to organise the senior championships next year or the years after that."
The EWF has a rolling contract with Eurosport which covers the European Championships starting in Moscow at the weekend, and is then up for renegotiation.
Akkus also spoke about a faster competition format in future.
"One hour, an hour and a half without a break is too much for TV and for spectators," he said.
"I am sure we could find more sponsorship if we can change the format.
"If we are on TV we get more money - we have to change for modern media."