The IWF has delayed the Congress where a new constitution is due to be passed ©IWF

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has moved it's two-day Constitutional Congress back by a month, but will go ahead with elections as planned in the last week of March.

The decision has been made because so much work is needed on improving the IWF's governance - one of the areas in which it has been criticised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The sport’s Olympic status is under constant review by the IOC after a series of corruption scandals and concerns over doping.

Last October, after the IWF Board ousted its reformist Interim President Ursula Papandrea of the United States, the IOC said it "stressed the critical importance of continuing reforms within the IWF in order to ensure the independence of its anti-doping operations and the modernisation of its governance and management structures".

The IWF referred to the IOC’s criticism today in announcing the new dates, April 29 and 30, for its Constitutional Congress.

It was originally scheduled for March 24 and 25, immediately before the Electoral Congress which is expected to go ahead, probably virtually, on March 26-27.

The Executive Board had "decided to expand the scope of governance reform", the IWF said in a statement.

"In place of the constitutional amendments originally envisaged, the independent members of the Reform and Governance Commission have now proposed an entirely new document that replaces the current IWF Constitution," the IWF added.

IWF Interim President Mike Irani, right, promised a complete revision of the body's constitution ©IWF
IWF Interim President Mike Irani, right, promised a complete revision of the body's constitution ©IWF

The IWF’s Interim President, Mike Irani of Britain, said: "Based on a comprehensive look at the IWF’s governance by the independent members of our Reform and Governance Commission, it became clear that amendments would not be enough to bring us up to the highest standards and meet the targets suggested to us by the IOC.

"Instead, complete revision is called for and that is what we will now deliver.

"It will also be important to ensure our athletes and member federations have adequate time to review the comprehensive proposals and comment on them before they vote.

"Fortunately, the new timeline allows us to still achieve two critical objectives: providing member federations with a clear view of the future of IWF’s governance while also meeting the IOC’s call for comprehensive reform well in advance for post-Tokyo 2020."

The Reform and Governance Commission first met in late October, chaired by the Australian lawyer Darren Charles Kane.

A few weeks later Kane addressed his concerns about the way the sport was run when he said during an online competition.

"We have a stark problem here in terms of what has happened in the past in relation to the IWF and what is happening in the future, and drawing a stark distinction and putting up a barrier between the past and the future," said Kane.

"We’ve got to do something that transforms the IWF from what it is at the moment and where it is considered at the moment into an international federation that is a best-practice international federation.

"This cannot be a half way house of change.

"I am very much of the view that... we are going to need to make some very hard decisions."

The deadline for nominations for the elections is Monday (January 25) night.

Few candidates have announced their intent to date, though one who has said he is standing for a place on the Executive Board is Tom Goegebuer, president of the Belgian Weightlifting Federation, a triple Olympian and a campaigner for clean sport.

The governance crisis at the IWF has threatened weightlifting's place on the Olympic programme ©Getty Images
The governance crisis at the IWF has threatened weightlifting's place on the Olympic programme ©Getty Images

In other news, Singapore has been chosen to host the delayed 2020 Commonwealth Championships in October this year, the most important qualifying event for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

England and Australia had also bid for the Championships.

One athlete who can now compete in Singapore is Apolonia Vaivai of Fiji, who has not competed since winning bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games because she joined an athletes’ boycott of her national federation.

That long-running dispute involved lifters based in Levuka, the island that has produced most of Fiji’s weightlifting talent.

Vaivai, who was twice Fiji’s sportswoman of the year, has apologised to Weightlifting Fiji, saying she had been "misled by coaches and some officials" and will train under Della Shaw-Elder, president of Weightlifting Fiji, and Henry Elder.