11 candidates for weightlifting election amid Olympic crisis

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Two Americans are among a total of 11 candidates for the presidency of weightlifting’s troubled governing body, seeking to steer it out of crisis as the sport faces being pulled from the Olympics.

The list of candidates for next month’s election has been released by the International Weightlifting Federation, which was named last year by the IOC as one of the Olympics’ ‘problem children’ due to problems persistence of integrity, leadership and doping.

Weightlifting’s spot at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics is under threat after its quota of medals and athletes was cut for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games in Tokyo and Paris, respectively.

The IWF election will take place at a June 25-26 meeting in the Albanian capital Tirana, with Americans Ursula Papandrea and Paula Aranda among the presidential candidates. Papandrea was removed from his role as interim chief in 2020 following the ousting of longtime 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 came to light in January 2020 by German broadcaster ARD.

Aján’s son-in-law, Attila Adamfi, is one of 16 candidates for the post of general secretary, according to the IWF list. Adamfi was the general manager of the IWF at the end of Aján’s presidency.

Nine of the presidential candidates are also vying for election as general secretary, including longtime sports official Zhou Jinqiang of China. Zhou is currently a board member of 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 classes. The totals had been 260 lifters in 15 events in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The IOC has further reduced weightlifting quotas to 120 athletes and 10 events – five for men and women – in Paris.

Weightlifting and boxing governing body IBA, which has been at odds with the IOC for years, was cited as trouble by IOC President Thomas Bach last December when the two sports been left out for 2028. The IOC is set to make a final decision for Los Angeles next year.

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