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"Bids" from problematic federations to get kiked out of the Olympic Programme


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Exclusive: IWF stays silent over repeated breaches of its "culture change" Constitution

 
 

The International Weightlifting Federation are failing to follow the rules of the new Constitution it has adopted ©YouTube

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has repeatedly breached the rules of the new Constitution it adopted last August.

Mike Irani, interim President of the IWF, spoke of "a brighter future" when the Constitution was approved by Congress nine months ago.

When it was amended at a Special Congress on January 30, Irani hailed it was a sign of "culture change" in a sport beset by doping and corruption scandals.

He pointed out that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had described the IWF as "a problem child", had cut its athlete quota for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and had conditionally removed weightlifting from the programme for Los Angeles 2028.

"We’ve come a long way," Irani told delegates as he praised them for voting through important changes that put the IWF "well on the way" to changing its culture, as required by the IOC.

But, despite those words the IWF leadership has failed to carry out many of the duties assigned to it under the new Constitution.

A long list of questions about its behaviour was sent by insidethegames last week to Irani, the IWF general secretary Mohamed Jaloud, and the governing body’s media officer.

Irani initially suggested that he would seek further information and respond, but since then there has been silence.

Most of the issues raised by Federations from three continents who contacted insidethegames last week concern "communication breakdown and complete lack of transparency", especially regarding the IWF’s finances.

The IWF has not produced any audited accounts for the past two years, and its audited financial report for 2019 was published on its website only eight weeks ago - but still not sent to Member Federations as required.

There has been no statement from the IWF to its members about important changes in its secretariat: the chief executive Fabien Verbrugge and operating director/legal counsel Lilla Sagi are both leaving.

IWF operating director/legal counsel Lilla Sagi, right, is leaving the governing body but its President Mike Irani, at the microphone, has so not communicated this to Member Federations ©YouTube IWF operating director/legal counsel Lilla Sagi, right, is leaving the governing body but its President Mike Irani, at the microphone, has so not communicated this to Member Federations ©YouTube

There are also concerns about a potential conflict of interest over the election of a member of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission (EDC).

The rules in Articles 9 and 10 of the Constitution clearly set out what the IWF must do for its members, and what level of communication and information those members are entitled to.

The IWF "shall do all things reasonably necessary to keep members duly informed regarding matters of international importance to the sport," is the first point of Article 10.

It must send out certain information to all members and publish that information on its website, for example agendas and minutes of meetings of the executive board, committees, and commissions.

It is also duty bound to send out a budget for this year, a strategic plan, and an annual plan.

None of this has happened and instead the IWF is carrying out its business "in secret" according to concerned Federations.

For example, the IWF Executive Board is due to meet tomorrow but there is no mention of this meeting anywhere on the IWF website, nor of any other Board meeting since November last year.

Not only is the information missing, but all Executive Board meetings since the Constitution was adopted should have been broadcast on livestream, as stated in Article 32.10.

The only reason for not doing this is "in circumstances where the President declares that a meeting shall be conducted 'in camera’ due to the confidentiality and objective sensitivity of the specific subject matter on the agenda for that meeting".

No agendas for any Board meeting have been sent to members so they cannot know if matters were "sensitive," and no minutes of 2021 Board meetings include any reference to Irani declaring that proceedings should be "in camera".

A recent missive sent to members referred to decisions made at an Executive Board meeting on December 19 last year but there is no record of any such meeting in terms of agenda, minutes or livestream coverage.

The minutes of the Special Congress in January have not been published either - the very meeting that is supposed to have put weightlifting on the road to redemption, according to Irani in his closing speech.

That simple process should have happened by February 13 to comply with the Constitution.

The IWF is nearly a year late producing an audited Financial Report for 2020, but its last accounts showed it had $28.8 million in assets ©IWF The IWF is nearly a year late producing an audited Financial Report for 2020, but its last accounts showed it had $28.8 million in assets ©IWF

The IWF is nearly a year late in producing a Financial Report for 2020 and has only 18 days left if it is to meet the deadline for its 2021 Financial Report.

The 2019 audited accounts, published more than 21 months late on January 19 this year, show that the IWF had $28.8 million (£22.1 million/€26.3 million) in its coffers.

How much it has now is unknown except to the Executive Board.

When the IWF asked members to approve its 2019 Audited Financial Report at a Congress last December, it showed only a power point presentation but did not produce any audited accounts, a point raised at the time by the delegate from Fiji, Atma Maharaj.

Fijis was the only dissenting voice and the Financial Report was voted through - but there has been no presentation or vote for 2020, and no accounts for that year have been sent to members.

At an Executive Board meeting in August last year one of its members, Karoliina Lundahl from Finland, stated "for the record" that minutes of various meetings and the audited accounts for both 2019 and 2020 "should be reported".

The 2020 accounts should have been sent to members and published online "within 28 days of receipt".

No accounts have been published for 2020 or 2021.

Another subject of concern was the election of an Australian lawyer to the EDC.

When votes were cast at the Special Congress in January, delegates had been provided with no biographical details about any of the five members and two reserve members of the EDC.

The point was raised at the time by the Fiji delegate Maharaj, who said, "I have some concern in terms of the process.

"Without that type of information - biographical details - we are doing no better than when at the last Congress we approved the audited financial statement without actually getting an audited financial statement.

"We are continuing to be the ‘problem child’ because we are not following basic communication."

Fiji did not vote for any of the EDC members, who had been proposed by the IWF executive Board and were duly elected.

Irani praised Maharaj for making a constructive criticism and told him, "The biographical data will be sent to you post haste".

That was six weeks ago: it has never been sent to Fiji or any other Member Federation, although details of four of the five members have since been posted on the IWF website, without any notice to members.

There are doubts over the independence of Charles Quagliata, a member of the IWF's Ethics and Disciplinary Commission, due to his close links to Executive Board member Sam Coffa ©Getty Images There are doubts over the independence of Charles Quagliata, a member of the IWF's Ethics and Disciplinary Commission, due to his close links to Executive Board member Sam Coffa ©Getty Images

The Constitution requires that Commission members must be "entirely independent of the Federation and the sport".

Charles Quagliata, who has worked as a lawyer for more than 40 years, won Commonwealth Games and Oceania Championships medals for Australia as a weightlifter, is a qualified IWF technical official, and was both a national team manager and a member of the Executive Board of the Australian Weightlifting Federation in 2019.

The President of the Australian Weightlifting Federation at the time of his appointment as a director and a team manager was, as now, Sam Coffa, who sits on the IWF Executive Board.

In his online biographical details Quagliata said he was now "totally disaffiliated with the sport".

When insidethegames asked him for his views on his eligibility for the EDC role and any potential conflict of interest he said any questions should be addressed to the EDC or the IWF.

"This is the third year I have not been a member of any sporting body," he said.

"It is a matter for sporting bodies as to who they appoint to positions and it is not unusual for appointees to have multiple qualifications…"

https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1120531/iwf-failing-to-follow-constitution-rules

IWF must be trying hard to get kicked, right?

This should also affect prospective sports bids to the core programme also, since one slot open is a valuable slot top be taken...

Apologies if this wasn´t the most adequate board to post this.

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