Dubai: The sporting world can welcome another ‘veteran’ departure following the resignation of Tamas Ajan as President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), late on Wednesday.
Born in January 1939 in Romania, Ajan is perhaps one of the oldest administrators in the sporting world at a time when sports bodies are rushing towards younger and more hands-on people to lead them.
As the president of the IWF, Ajan — a regular visitor to the UAE during those glory days of weightlifting in the early 2000s — was also a member of the International Olympic Committee until 2010. In addition, he has been the general secretary of the Hungarian Olympic Committee [from 1989 to 2005] and from 1975 to 2000, he also served as the general secretary of the IWF, after which Ajan was elected as president.
Ursula Papandrea, the American Acting President, will now lead the sport’s governing body.
The 81-year-old Hungarian had stood aside as president, originally for 90 days, in late January when an independent investigation began into claims made by ARD journalists — the same team that exposed alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia. That investigation is being led by the man who played such a significant role in the Russian doping scandal, the Canadian professor of law, Richard McLaren.
Ajan had been accused of corruption in a German television documentary that was broadcast in early January, after which he had stepped aside, repeatedly denying the allegations of alleged financial malpractice ten years ago along with corruption in anti-doping procedures.
“The IWF Executive Board notes that an independent investigation by Professor Richard McLaren is currently ongoing, examining allegations made by ARD (the German TV station) and related issues,” read a statement from the IWF following a teleconference, on Wednesday.
“The IWF thanks Tamás Aján for more than four decades of service to weightlifting, and most notably for his work in recent years to ensure an anti-doping programme which meets the standards of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) is in place,” Papandrea added.
“We can now begin the work of determining a fresh path towards achieving the full potential of our sport,” the acting IWF President said.
Aján had not always been a popular figure in the sport with many of the Board members increasingly irked with his attempts to hold on to power while clinging on to statues embodied in the IWF constitution. And even as the teleconference continued late into the night, Ajan sprang a surprise by resigning rather than have the IWF Board voting in favour of his expulsion.