The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been tested with the most difficult challenges since the World Wars. And beyond the Olympic Games as an event, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games might also be a test of survival to some sports that are part of the Olympic movement but there is doubt upon their survival.
One of them is weightlifting. Last week, the International Weightlifting Federation published a report by the International Testing Agency – a decentralized agency created to investigate Russia’s doping cover-up scandal-. It was the IWF President, Tamás Aján, that appointed the ITF to oversee parts of the Federation’s anti-doping program.
The report concluded, after a fact-finding effort, that Mr. Aján and the Presidents of the National Weightlifting Federations of Turkey and Romania, are responsible for tampering doping tests and obstructing result management systems in order to allow some lifters to compete at several events.
One of them was Roxana Cocoș (ROU), who was awarded -and then rescinded- an Olympic medal in London 2012 even though she had just been found guilty for doping.
This is just the latest in a series of doping scandals surrounding weightlifting that have made the sport lose credibility. There are a total of twenty five countries that have been either restricted or excluding from participating in the weightlifting competitions of Tokyo 2020.
Several World Record holders and gold medal favorites will be absent from the Games either because of their offenses or the sanctions imposed o their national federations.
For the Paris 2024 Olympic Games weightlifting will only have 120 spots -an average of 8.5 competitors per event if the same weight classes are kept, and its future outlook is still on hold. Th IWF is set to have a Constitutional Congress, a requisite to continue being part of the Olympic program.
This might be the most important meeting in the IWF’s history and a key moment in getting their act together and moving forward if the sport wants to continue being part of the Olympic program. Otherwise, there are several strength-based sports that have grown internationally. It would not be an incredible surprise if they eventually take weightlifting’s spot if things do not change.
But it can still survive. Road Cycling seems to have turned things around even when its more professional-based model could make things more difficult. Weightlifting can too.