Doping issues continue to be a major issue in Olympic sports. Over recent years, athletes have been stripped of their medals and even banned from competition after testing positive for banned substances. The entire Russian delegation has been prohibited from competing under their own flag and country name due to issues surrounding the use of banned substances.
The latest chapter in the doping story is a lifetime ban for Olympic weightlifting official Tamás Aján for “covering up doping cases”.
The Hungarian spent over 40 years as an official in the sport. According to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Ajan is guilty of “tampering, fraudulent conduct, and complicity in covering-up years of doping cases”. The CAS added Ajan participated in the “complicity in anti-doping rule violations involving multiple weightlifting athletes over a period of many years since 2012.”
The German broadcast network ARD first broke the story of a coverup in January 2020. The charge was investigated by anti-doping investigator Richard McLaren and found to be true.
During his investigation, McLaren found “systematic governance failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF.” Adding that there were at least 40 positive cases that had been “hidden” including some medal winning athletes. Noting that Ajan had received cash from member federations, McLaren said there were “millions of dollars was unaccounted for by the IWF, the investigation concluded.”
The IOC has retested samples of weightlifting athletes from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London; saying that there were over 20 positive cases in each Olympics.
Ajan spent 20 years as the president of the International Weightlifting Federation and was the General Secretary the previous 24 years. He was also a member of the IOC – International Olympic Committee – for 10 years where he helped to select the host cities and represented Olympic sports at the World Anti-Doping Agency. He resigned his duties with the IOC after the allegations became public.
But the fall out from Ajan’s actions could go far past his lifetime ban in weightlifting. At the moment weightlifting is not listed among the sports up for competition at the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Romanian weightlifting official Nicu Vlad, who isa former vice president of the IWF Anti-Doping Commission has also received a lifetime ban from the sport.