RWF President Maxim Agapitov, centre, hosted USA Weightlifting counterpart Ursula Garza-Papandrea, right, and USA Weightlifting chief executive Phil Andrews, left, in Moscow ©Kevin Farley/USA Weightlifting/Flickr

A USA Weightlifting delegation has visited Moscow to discuss the reformation of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) with its President Maxim Agapitov.

Agapitov hosted USA Weightlifting President Ursula Garza-Papandrea and chief executive Phil Andrews in Russia’s capital.

Russia is appealing for leniency from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in attempting to have a one-year ban overturned.

The RWF has made a number of reforms in recent times, including the suspension and investigation of many leading coaches.

Agapitov, who became President of the RWF in November, says the new anti-doping programme is "an example others could follow".

His meeting with the USA Weightlifting delegation was described as "extremely important" by Andrews.

"We got to see exactly what Russia is doing to improve their anti-doping efforts," he added.

"It is important that our sport recognises the efforts being made by President Agapitov, and gives this new Russian administration the opportunity to prove it can make a valuable contribution to the sport of weightlifting."

The USA Weightlifting delegation toured Russia's National Centre for Sports Medicine and the athletic training centre.

Members also met with RWF officials as well as executives from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Ministry of Sport.

"It was refreshing to see that Russia has recommitted itself to clean sport and fair play," Garza-Papandrea said.

Maxim Agapitov, left, and Phil Andrews, right, in Russia's capital ©Kevin Farley/USA Weightlifting/Flickr
Maxim Agapitov, left, and Phil Andrews, right, in Russia's capital ©Kevin Farley/USA Weightlifting/Flickr

The trip follows Agapitov’s visit to Anaheim in March when he toured the venue for the 2017 IWF World Weightlifting Championships, the Anaheim Convention Center, and discussed anti-doping efforts, joint sponsorship and training opportunities.

This month has also seen Andrews and Garza-Papandrea meet with IWF Presidential candidate Antonio Urso in Rome, while the latter was in attendance at the Pan American Weightlifting Federation’s Executive Board meeting in Ecuadorian city Guayaquil.

Garza-Papandrea will be a candidate for IWF vice-presidency and Executive Board membership when the world governing body holds its Electoral Congress in Thailand’s capital Bangkok from May 29 to 30.

Agapitov, who is among the candidates for vice-presidency, first vice-presidency and Executive Board membership, is trying to change the culture of Russian weightlifting.

It comes after a series of damning revelations that made 2016 arguably the worst year on record for Olympic weightlifting and for Russia in particular.

Half of the 98 doping positives in retesting of samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games were provided by weightlifters.

Last December Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the retesting "raises concerns with some countries, in particular Russia, and with regard to some sports, in particular weightlifting".

Russian weightlifters were banned from Rio 2016 by the IWF for bringing the sport into disrepute.

Apart from the Olympic ban, Russia is one of nine nations due to be suspended for a year when the IOC-led retesting process is complete. 

The one-year bans will apply to all nations who had three or more positives in the retests.

These nations are Russia and Kazakhstan with 10 retests each, Belarus seven, Azerbaijan five, Armenia four and Turkey, Ukraine, China and Moldova three each. 

Russia, like Kazakhstan and Belarus, had originally contested its one-year ban, but later withdrew its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.