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Doping-Former international weightlifting heads banned for life over ITA charges

(Reuters) – Tamas Ajan, the former head of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), and Nicu Vlad, the IWF’s former vice-president have been banned from the sport for life for covering up doping offences, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said on Thursday.

Hungarian Ajan, who has denied wrongdoing, and Romanian Vlad were charged with “complicity and tampering” in regard to doping offences by the ITA in June last year.

The duo were given lifetime bans by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for “covering up, delaying and obstructing results management for certain athletes that committed anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs),” the ITA said in a statement.

The ITA, an independent organisation which implements anti-doping programmes for international federations, took over the IWF doping programme in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Allegations of misconduct against top IWF officials were first uncovered by German broadcaster ARD in 2020 and substantiated after an investigation by Professor Richard McLaren the following year.

“The ITA investigated 146 unresolved cases over the 2009-2019 period that have been passed on to the ITA by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” the ITA said.

“During the ITA investigation, it transpired that some IWF and national member federation officials had themselves also committed ADRVs of complicity and tampering in relation to certain cases.”

Ajan and Vlad challenged the charges against them in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which sided with the ITA and issued lifetime bans to the duo.

Ajan, who resigned as IWF president in April 2020, had repeatedly denied allegations in the ARD documentary of corruption in the sport stretching back years.

Vlad stepped aside as IWF vice-president soon after the ITA charged him in June without commenting on the allegations.

“This decision, which the ITA acknowledges and wholeheartedly supports, is clear evidence that its independent, fact-driven and impartial approach in anti-doping brings clear and actionable results in the favour of clean sport,” ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen said.

“It also demonstrates that we are ready to eradicate root causes of any type of doping violations at any level with the objective to provide athletes with a healthy and clean playing field to compete on.”

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)


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