Intarat out after just one day at IWF

Intarat out after just one day at IWF

More turmoil as weightlifting body appoints third leader in three days

Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey, former president of the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association, talks with reporters at a briefing earlier this year. (Post File Photo)
Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey, former president of the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association, talks with reporters at a briefing earlier this year. (Post File Photo)

LONDON: The troubled International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has appointed its third interim president in as many days, with Michael Irani taking over from Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand.

Intarat had replaced American Ursula Papandrea in the role after an emergency meeting of the executive board on Tuesday.

The future of weightlifting as an Olympic sport is at risk, warned Irani, chairman of the medical committee and former chair of the anti-doping commission.

“I do not intend to stand as a candidate for the IWF president position in the future, so I will be able to focus fully on the reforms leading up to a clear and transparent IWF Congress,” said Irani, 71.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday it was “very worried” by the replacement of Papandrea, the way the decision had been taken and the person chosen to full the position.

The reference was to Intarat, a longtime influential figure in Chiang Mai who presided over a scandal-tainted Thai weightlifting programme.

Nine Thais including two reigning Olympic champions — Sukanya Srisurat and Sopita Tanasan — were suspended after positive drug tests last November, prompting the country to voluntarily ban itself from world championships in Pattaya as well as the Tokyo Olympics.

Thailand is one of the three nations banned from the Tokyo Games because of its doping record.

Intarat, a former president of the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association (Tawa), had termed the IWF ban as “too harsh and unfair” in a statement in April this year.

USA Weightlifting and BWL, the British governing body, also issued strong statements after Intarat’s appointment, accusing the IWF board of blocking reform.

The Americans called for an extraordinary congress to be convened by the end of November while the BWL said the executive board should stand down immediately.

Antonio Urso, president of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF), resigned from the board in protest after Irani’s appointment.

“I no longer share the political line of this Board, which seems to me crazy and destructive of the future of world weightlifting,” the website Insidethegames quoted him as saying.

The sport, rocked by revelations of doping cover-ups and decades of corruption, was warned by the IOC in June that it risks being cut from the Paris 2024 Olympics and subsequent Games.

The IWF board elected Papandrea in January after 81-year-old president Tamas Ajan, a Hungarian, stepped aside during a corruption probe.

Ajan, who eventually resigned in April, had been at the IWF since 1976, serving 24 years as general secretary and 20 as president.

Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor whose findings in July 2016 led to Russia being banned from all international athletic competitions, including the Rio Olympics, told reporters in June that the IWF was rife with corruption.

This included vote buying, doping cover-ups and $10.4 million in cash that cannot be accounted for. Ajan denied any wrongdoing.

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