Sarah Davies has resigned as chair of the IWF Athletes' Commission and as an Executive Board member of the IWF ©Getty Images

Sarah Davies has resigned as chair of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Athletes' Commission and as an Executive Board member of the IWF.

Her decision was relayed to Athletes' Commission members and all fellow members of the IWF Board today, and is effective immediately.

Forrester Osei of Ghana will step up from vice-chair to lead the Athletes' Commission, and the remaining nine members will elect a new vice-chair in due course.

The surprise news follows a disciplinary hearing by British Weight Lifting (BWL), which has decided to deselect Davies for three months and insisted on her Athletes' Commission resignation.

She will not be able to compete at the European Weightlifting Championships which is scheduled to start in Tirana, Albania on May 28 but will be able to lift for England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham due to be held from July 28 to August 8.

"For reasons of transparency and integrity I believe it is the right thing to do to resign," Davies said.

She also said she accepted the BWL sanction.

Davies has been an outspoken critic of the IWF since athletes were first given a voice in the way the sport is governed.

Forrester Osei of Ghana will step up from vice-chair to lead the Athletes' Commission ©Getty Images
Forrester Osei of Ghana will step up from vice-chair to lead the Athletes' Commission ©Getty Images

She was appointed chair when the Athletes' Commission was created in September 2020 and was a close ally of Ursula Papandrea, the American who appointed her.

Papandrea, a reformist Interim President of the IWF, was ousted by the Board in October 2020 and replaced by Britain’s Mike Irani.

Davies, 29, had a strong relationship with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has removed weightlifting from the Olympic Games schedule in 2028, stipulating that a return is possible only if the IWF demonstrates a "culture change" after decades of doping and corruption problems.

A statement from BWL said Davies had contravened its athlete agreement and its code of conduct.

"British Weight Lifting (BWL) has implemented a sanction, determined by an independent arbitrator, against Sarah Davies after she admitted she had made comments of a discriminatory nature against a fellow athlete," a BWL statement said.

"The finding was independently adjudicated by an independent arbitrator appointed by Sport Resolutions, who also determined the sanction.

"BWL hereby sanctions Ms. Davies as follows: Ms Davies is hereby issued with a final warning that is to remain live for 12 months; Ms Davies is required to apologise in writing to the victim; and Ms Davies is required to attend training on equality, diversity, and inclusion and undertake a follow-up presentation on the subject to a group of pathway athletes.

"While it is acknowledged Ms Davies has demonstrated genuine remorse for her actions, BWL also calls for Ms Davies to resign from her role as chair of the IWF Athletes Commission with immediate effect.

"BWL aspires to uphold the highest level of integrity to ensure everyone associated with the organisation is treated fairly, on an equal basis and without any form of discrimination."

Davies posted a statement on social media which said: "I initially was not planning to have to post this, but I think it is only right that I respond to the statement released earlier by the BWL Executive Board.

"I am deeply remorseful that this situation has got to this, but I accept what I said was unacceptable and I am sorry to those who it upset and offended. 

"This was never my intention with the statement. 

"I accept the sanction from BWL and understand their reasoning.

"Having worked hard for the last 18 months to better the international landscape of our sport it deeply saddens me that I have had to step down from my position on the Athletes Commission.

"In that time I have stood for what is right for our sport and fought to keep our sport in the Olympic Movement, built strong relations with the IOC and made significant change within the organisation, including having the athlete voice recognised.

"Stepping down from this position has been the hardest part of the sanction.

"I hope the work that has been started will be continued in my absence and those involved in the leadership of the sport will continue to do the right thing for future generations of weightlifters."