Seven men are standing to be the next EWF President ©Getty Images

Britain, Ireland and The Netherlands are among the nations that have nominated candidates to become the new leader of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF).

Seven men - and no women - have put forward their names, which amounts to nearly 16 per cent of the EWF's 45 nations eligible to vote at the December 18 election.

The candidates are Colin Buckley of Ireland, Antonio Conflitti of Moldova, Tryggve Duun of Norway, David Kipshidze of Georgia, Eric Jan Kwekkeboom of The Netherlands, Nedim Masic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ashley Metcalfe of Britain.

Maxim Agapitov, who became Russia’s first leader of the EWF in June when he stepped up as Interim President, is not standing after an overwhelming vote of no confidence in his leadership last month.

The special Electoral Congress was called after what Conflitti called "two months of unprecedented crisis".

It will be held in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent, two days before the Electoral Congress of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Conflitti lost his seat on the EWF Board in April when Hasan Akkus of Turkey was elected President and Agapitov became first vice-president.

In the build-up to the elections in Moscow seven months ago, Conflitti pointed out that Akkus had been named in the McLaren Report into Corruption in Weightlifting, published in June last year.

Antonio Conflitti is one of seven candidate for the EWF presidency ©Antonio Conflitti
Antonio Conflitti is one of seven candidate for the EWF presidency ©Antonio Conflitti

Two months into his tenure Akkus stepped aside when he was charged by the International Testing Agency (ITA) with a doping offence.

He is alleged to have colluded with the former IWF President Tamás Aján in an attempt to prevent Turkish athletes being suspended for doping.

Akkus, who is contesting the charge, could yet return to resume the presidency if he is cleared by the ITA before the election on December 18, but there is no sign of a swift resolution to the case.

"Proceedings are ongoing with ITA," Akkus told insidethegames today.

"I have no idea when it will end."

After Agapitov stepped up as Interim President he was involved in controversy when he used the EWF website to make personal attacks against weightlifting officials, both rival candidates in the IWF elections, from Britain and Hungary.

Last month members took a vote of no confidence in Agapitov, by 29 to four, and a special election was called.

Agapitov has since been told that he is ineligible to stand as an IWF candidate - a decision he is challenging - because of multiple doping offences by Russian weightlifters, almost all of which occurred many years ago.

Whoever becomes the new permanent leader of the EWF will take a seat on the IWF Board as one of the five continental federation Presidents.

Conflitti said the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has repeatedly warned the IWF that weightlifting’s future on the Olympic Games schedule is not guaranteed, would be watching the EWF’s election as well as the IWF’s.

A vote of no confidence in Maxim Agapitov sparked the special election ©RWF
A vote of no confidence in Maxim Agapitov sparked the special election ©RWF

"Europe has never been very united but today it is even more divided - other continents are more united than us," Conflitti said.

Conflitti, who has overseen a "clean-up" of weightlifting in Moldova after serious doping problems in the past, said his priorities were to raise the popularity of weightlifting, adopt a new Constitution in line with the IWF’s, and to create an EWF web TV channel that would promote the activities of member federations as well as the EWF.

While Conflitti expected "political strategies that will influence the choices in the EWF" in the coming weeks, the Dutch candidate, Kwekkeboom, said he preferred not to take an individual route like some other candidates.

"I prefer to operate based on trust and confidence and do not have any personal interest in the position," Kwekkeboom said.

"I rather give priority to inside consultation with my fellow candidates and our member federations, than to boost a personal campaign… The general interest should always prevail over personal interest.

"My drive for the position is primarily to support to retain our Olympic status and to improve the new leadership which is desired by the IOC.

"Only if the majority of the EWF members embrace such strategy and at the same time together we agree to limit the number of candidates to a maximum of three in offering an improved quality choice for our weightlifting community, will I be motivated to continue my candidacy."

David Kipshidze has vowed to focus on better governance and marketing, should he become President  ©David Kipshidze
David Kipshidze has vowed to focus on better governance and marketing, should he become President ©David Kipshidze

Masic also said that countering doping problems and retaining weightlifting’s Olympic status was the overriding goal, and he too would work "in a democratic way", only after consulting fellow Board members.

The former international athlete is now a coach, technical official and masters lifter as well as President of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Weightlifting Federation.

He highlighted his language skills as an advantage - he speaks six actively, can speak five more, and understands another six - and said one of his aims would be to get weightlifting on the programme of the European Games.

Kipshidze said he would focus on better governance and marketing "so that each and every member federation will see and feel the difference".

He believes his "extensive experience as a sports administrator, top-tier events director and researcher" give him an advantage.

Kipshidze has a number of diplomas from Georgia and the United States, and wrote a thesis on "The marketing value of the main weightlifting events".

He has been director of the European Championships and the IWF World Junior Championships.

Kipshidze and Buckley, president of Weightlifting Ireland, are both members of the EWF Executive Board.

Metcalfe, a former professional cricketer, is chief executive of British Weight Lifting and Duun sits on the EWF Technical Committee.