Ursula Papandrea has defended telling the "IOC the truth", even though she claims it led to her being voted out of office by her own Executive Board ©IWF

Ursula Papandrea says she was voted out of office by her own Executive Board at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) because they were unhappy that she "told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the truth."

"I have always been exactly straightforward with the IOC about intentions and actions," Papandrea told insidethegames the day after she was replaced as Interim President by Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand.

"Maybe they wanted me to write something else?"

Papandrea said the Board stalled attempts to reform the IWF, blocked the appointment of independent specialists, and lied about their intentions.

The American said she "actually heard some of them say ‘we only have to say we want to do it, we don’t have to actually do it’ when discussing reforms.

"There have always been just obstacles and barriers, and then they (Board members) say you haven’t made any progress on reform!

"We could have done but they didn’t want to follow where I was leading them, which was full and comprehensive reform, and creating an Integrity Commission (for overview of operations) that was totally independent.

"These were not palatable or tolerable for them.

"You create your own path – they will either succeed or they won’t.

"I sincerely hope they succeed because if they don’t then all the weightlifters in the world are going to pay the price – and that’s a lot of risk."

Papandrea was appointed Acting President in January after a corruption scandal was exposed by a German television documentary.

She oversaw the exit of Tamás Aján, the long-standing President who resigned in April before being condemned for corruption in the McLaren Report into weightlifting.

IOC President Thomas Bach said recently he was concerned by the slow progress the IWF was making towards reform ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach said recently he was concerned by the slow progress the IWF was making towards reform ©Getty Images

It highlighted missing millions, doping cover-ups and rigged elections.

The IOC has consistently and repeatedly told the IWF it must reform and although some notable achievements have been made – taking all anti-doping procedures "out of house" was the most prominent – Thomas Bach, the IOC President, said progress was too slow.

Last week he criticised the Board for its reluctance to take independent advice and give athletes a voice.

Sarah Davies, chair of the IWF’s Athletes’ Commission, posted a video on social media in which she says, "The IWF is corrupt," and reveals that she wrote to Bach 10 days ago to express her concerns.

The Athletes Commission does not have a vote.

Today the IOC supported Papandrea’s efforts and said weightlifting was in danger of losing its Olympic status for Paris 2024.

The IOC further criticised the Board for putting Intarat in charge as he is from a country that has a terrible record in doping and is banned from Tokyo 2020.

He was named as a staunch ally of Aján in the McLaren Report and denied being the "bag man" for vote-buying.

The new IWF regime issued a statement this evening saying it had made new appointments of Independent Commission members and gave no explanation for its decision to replace Papandrea.

It said Intarat had been put in charge because the IWF Constitution names the first vice-president – a role held by Intarat – as automatic replacement for a President.

It does not say why the same rule was overlooked when Papandrea was appointed, rather than Intarat, as a replacement for Aján .

The IWF statement said it was committed to reform and modernisation and added, "The strong concerns of the IOC regarding the governance reforms, and the perceived lack of progress, are also the immediate concern of the Board.

“During the meeting the Board decided to revoke the appointment of Ursula Papandrea as Acting Interim President.

"The Executive Board thanks Ms Papandrea for her contribution in the last few months and counts on her continued support as vice-president."

Will that support be forthcoming?

"I was elected vice-president (there are five of them on the Board) and I will do my duty but I don’t think I’ll be welcomed, nor will my voice or opinion," said Papandrea.

"I don’t have a lot of confidence in being led on anti-doping in the correct way, for example, by someone whose country is sanctioned for doping, has a long history of it, and who has a long history with his country and with Tamás Aján.

"I won’t quit the position but it doesn’t make any sense, what value am I going to have when my vote is just going to go to nothing?

"I don’t think I can have the type of impact on the organisation that I could have had when they put me in charge to lead reform.

"I’m not sure I want to be part of something that’s not genuine. I hope I’m wrong for the sake of the sport. I’m not ‘I’m the leader or nothing’. I’ll try."

She said the new regime “think the political scene is something they’re going to be able to control."

“I would not risk that – I would make the changes you say you are going to make, that way you strengthen your position.”

Papandrea was especially frustrated by the Integrity Commission being blocked, the body that would have independent experts overseeing the IWF’s all-round efforts.

"We could have voted on June 21 to create an Integrity Commission and started it then but Nicu Vlad blocked it," she said.

"We agree in principle to an Integrity Commission – but not in reality. They didn’t take any real steps."

Vlad, a former Olympic champion from Romania, is one of seven Board members whose nations have reduced athlete quotas for Tokyo 2020, or are banned outright, because of multiple doping offences.