LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Two American women are among a total of 11 candidates running for president of weightlifting’s troubled governing body, looking to lead it out of crisis as the sport risks being dropped from the Olympics.
The candidate list for next month’s election was published by the International Weightlifting Federation, which was branded one of the “problem children” of the Olympics by the IOC last year because of persistent issues with integrity, leadership and doping.
Weightlifting’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics is at risk after its quota of medal events and athletes were cut for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games in Tokyo and Paris, respectively.
The IWF’s election will be held during a June 25-26 meeting in the Albanian capital Tirana, with Americans Ursula Papandrea and Paula Aranda among the presidential hopefuls. Papandrea was removed as interim leader in 2020 in fallout from the ouster of long-time IWF president Tamás Aján, a former IOC member.
The IWF has been in turmoil since irregular finances and doping cover-ups during Aján’s 20-year presidency were exposed in January 2020 by German broadcaster ARD.
Aján’s son-in-law Attila Adamfi is one of 16 candidates running for the role of general secretary, according to the IWF list. Adamfi was the IWF’s director general at the end of Aján’s presidency.
Nine of the presidential candidates are also running in the election for general secretary, including long-time sports official Zhou Jinqiang of China. Zhou is currently a board member at the International Judo Federation.
China won seven gold medals in weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics last year, where the IOC allowed 196 athletes to compete in 14 weight categories. The totals had been 260 lifters in 15 events at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The IOC further cut weightlifting’s quotas to 120 athletes and 10 events — five each for men and women — in Paris.
Weightlifting and boxing’s governing body IBA, which is in a years-long dispute with the IOC, were cited as problems by IOC president Thomas Bach last December when both sports were left off the initial slate of sports for 2028. The IOC is set to make a final decision for Los Angeles next year.
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