Tamas Ajan is seeking another term as IWF President ©Getty Images

International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Tamas Ajan, the Hungarian who has been in key roles at the governing body for more than 40 years, says he still has the energy and vitality to take the sport through a challenging period of change over the next four years.

Ajan, 78, has pledged to challenge cultural attitudes in some countries by establishing women's weightlifting in all member nations and has also promised to create a new Grand Prix structure.

Other pledges are new disciplines such as mixed or team events, while more money for development projects and standardised coaching qualifications are also aims.

He also promises more out-of-competition testing in the battle against doping.

Ajan became general secretary of the IWF in 1976 and was elected President in 2000, since when he has won three more elections. 

He goes for a fifth term on Monday (May 29) when he is one of seven candidates standing in the IWF's Presidential election in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ajan told voters via the IWF's World Weightlifting magazine: "I have submitted my candidature because I want to keep on serving the Federation and weightlifting. 

Tamas Ajan says he has
Tamas Ajan says he has "a lot of ideas and projects" for weightlifting ©Getty Images

"I have a lot of ideas and projects that I could and would like to realise, for instance in management, governance, and financial support to the sport.

"There are many opportunities for development, for example in the World Cup or Grand Prix series. 

"We need a more concentrated 'star-producing' programme, because the sport does not exist without stars and we must help promote them."

In this respect, Ajan said he would focus on marketing and communications, with a "transformation of web platforms, creation of a digital strategy, global sponsorship rights sales, and a long-term broadcasting and marketing contract".

To help some of the smaller member federations, Ajan proposes to abolish the annual membership fee of $500 (£385/€445) they pay the IWF.

"Some believe that increasing the continental federations' support is an option, but I believe that reaching out to the member federations directly is the most effective way to develop the sport," Ajan said.

On doping, Ajan said: "The fight for clean weightlifting must be continued but it is important to realise that what happened was not by fault of the IWF." 

He said that the IWF anti-doping control was "praised as exemplary" by, among others, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Ajan said the IWF would carry out more out-of-competition tests should he be elected. 

He would ensure a strong focus on education, especially for young lifters, tighten the rules and introduce a doping exam.

All lifters would have to pass this online and he would ensure "targeted testing to eliminate cheaters' groups".

The IWF recently adopted a tougher anti-doping policy and this week it introduced a "report doping" tab on its website, which allows anybody to report, confidentially, suspected cheating.

The IWF has added a form on its website where doping can be reported ©IWF
The IWF has added a form on its website where doping can be reported ©IWF

When asked if the number of out-of-competition tests should have been increased sooner, Ajan said: "Allow me to state that the IWF has always led by numbers. 

"In the future, just like we did in the past, we will constantly increase the number of tests done, in and out-of-competition, focusing on quality and target-testing instead of quantity.

"This goes with an intensified and refined testing programme, a constantly updated anti-doping policy and a targeted prevention and education programme.

"Always learning from past experiences, I believe the IWF has to evolve and change constantly, and it is not only a matter of political campaign.

"The IWF has a close cooperation with WADA - as I also hold the position of WADA Foundation Board Member - and from the beginning, we stand side by side in their aim to create an independent testing authority. 

"This being a long and complex procedure, the IWF actively contributes to the project. 

"However, we can state that the project has not reached the phase of creation yet."

The emergence and growth of women's weightlifting has been one of the key features of Ajan's lengthy reign. 

The first Women's World Championships were held in 1987, and women's contests were added to the Olympic programme in 2000.

In Monday's election there will be two senior decision-making roles guaranteed for women, one on the Executive Board and the other, for the first time, as a vice-president.

As well as being a member of the WADA Foundation Board, Ajan has been an honorary IOC member since 2010. 

"I can promise that I shall continue to give maximum energy and focus to reinforce the Olympic status of weightlifting and its globally respected position," he said.

Tamas Ajan has pledged to continue his support for women's weightlifting ©Getty Images
Tamas Ajan has pledged to continue his support for women's weightlifting ©Getty Images

"I feel lucky to have been able to take a leading role in the progress of weightlifting in the last decades and that we have kept our sport's status on the Olympic programme.

"Taking my energy from the past, I have always had the ability to accept and tackle new challenges, to be revitalised and do the necessary for a change. 

"I still have this ability and vitality and I am ready to take weightlifting and the IWF successfully through the next four years."

The full list of Presidential candidates is Ajan, Antonio Urso of Italy, Yousef Al-Mana of Qatar, Ma Wenguang of China, Ali Moradi of Iran, Monico Puentevella of The Philippines and Nicu Vlad of Romania. 

Some of those may withdraw before the votes are cast.

Al-Mana and Moradi are the latest candidates to release their campaign papers to delegates.

Al-Mana, 63, a senior police officer, highlights the need for a consolidation of Olympic values, creating a worldwide club tournament, and giving more power to continental federations, including in anti-doping.

Moradi, 55, who has a PhD in physical education and sport science, has based his campaign on three pillars: reforms and good governance, democracy and participation and weightlifting development.