National Federations are calling for Romania's Nicu Vlad to resign from the IWF Executive Board after he was implicated in a damning report published by the International Testing Agency ©IWF

In the wake of the latest doping scandal in weightlifting, National Federations have called for Nicu Vlad and Hasan Akkus to resign from the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Akkus should also step down as head of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF), says one of his rivals in the recent EWF Presidential election.

Meanwhile, Ursula Papandrea, whose attempts to reform the sport led to her being ousted as the IWF’s Interim President last October, claimed the governing body’s inaction has "brought us to the brink of losing our Olympic status".

She told insidethegames, "It is time the IWF commit themselves to holding to account those who have created our perilous status.

"Those involved in doping for decades and those tied to administrative malfeasance must be replaced by the many leaders around the world dedicated to saving our Olympic status and opposed to taking the risks we have seen taken."

She said the IWF had wasted an opportunity to reform under her leadership and had done nothing but waste time and block any attempts at change since her departure in October.

Vlad, Akkus and the former IWF president Tamás Aján have been charged by the International Testing Agency (ITA) with anti-doping offences at the end of an eight-month investigation.

Aján, the Hungarian who resigned after a corruption scandal last year, and Vlad have been charged with "tampering and complicity" after allowing a Romanian weightlifter, Roxana Cocos, to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games when they knew she was provisionally suspended for two doping offences.

Cocos won a silver medal, which she later forfeited after she tested positive when stored samples were reanalysed.

Vlad, a former Olympic champion whose National Federation is under investigation for further organised doping offences, was chair of the IWF Anti-Doping Committee at the time.

Akkus is accused of trying to avoid a possible ban and a hefty fine for the Turkish Weightlifting Federation (TWF) after 17 of its athletes tested positive in the last two months of 2012.

The ITA’s investigation report claims that in 2013 Akkus, then President of the TWF, colluded with the IWF to make it appear that the positives were "national" cases - which would free the Federation from severe punishment - rather than the responsibility of the IWF.

Akkus, elected EWF President in April, said he would talk to his lawyers before making any comment.

One of his rivals in the election was Antonio Conflitti, of Moldova, who said Akkus should resign – a view also held by British Weight Lifting (BWL).

Conflitti had raised queries about Akkus’s suitability as a candidate before the election, as Turkey’s alleged involvement in doping cover-ups had been exposed in a television documentary in 2020.

He has written to all members of the EWF to say, "When I wrote to you before the election, my antagonist and some of his supporters said I was very aggressive, but today it turns out that everything was right.

"Hasan Akkus should resign immediately from his position.

"The damage done is serious enough and he must take responsibility."

Ashley Metcalfe, chief executive of BWL also wrote to the EWF board to "urgently request the President to resign with immediate effect or voluntarily step aside until the case is concluded".

He said that while the case is ongoing "the EWF Executive Board needs to lead by example in terms of much improved governance and ethics, and if the individual will not follow the honourable path, then the EWF Board should make the decision for him".

He made a similar statement in a letter to the IWF’s Interim President Mike Irani.

A news headline on the IWF website states that the governing body is "ready to take immediate action" but nothing has happened since the ITA report came out yesterday. 

"BWL cannot express highly enough our disappointment and dismay that no immediate appropriate action has been implemented in the face of such damaging news," Metcalfe wrote.

He said Vlad and Akkus should resign their seats or voluntarily step aside while their cases are dealt with.

British Weight Lifting are among the countries calling for Hasan Akkus to resign as President of the European Weightlifting Federation after he was implicated in covering up doping ©EWF
British Weight Lifting are among the countries calling for Hasan Akkus to resign as President of the European Weightlifting Federation after he was implicated in covering up doping ©EWF

Papandrea said, "I am saddened that again more board members have been involved in the very activities that have brought us to the brink of losing Olympic status and another reduction of Olympic Games quota.

"Now the ITA has held some of those guilty accountable.

"It is time the IWF also commit themselves to holding to account those who have created our perilous status.

"The IWF has had many opportunities since April 2020 [when Aján was forced out and Papandrea took charge] to implement the real change and reform we need.

"My efforts were delayed and blocked.

"The Board needs leadership that will take the initiative, as I attempted to do.

"Eight months have passed now and it has been delay after delay.

"Again there is an opportunity to do the right thing.

"As the Constitutional Congress approaches [on June 30], the IWF members have an opportunity to make many needed changes.

"In particular, the vetting process (for board members and election candidates) must be stringent in eligibility requirements and adhere to the suggestions of the independent experts who drafted the new Constitution.

"The IWF itself should eliminate anyone identified as impugning the reputation of the sport."

""The underlying cultural issue that must be changed is a lack of accountability.

"The anti-doping problems, the corruption and poor governance can all be tied in part to this enduring lack of accountability.

"The athletes have really been the ones held responsible, repeatedly.

"A decade of doping doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

"It is now incumbent on the member federations to set strict standards and abide by them.

 "A failure to do so will perpetuate and exacerbate more of the same."