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Independent Panel issues sanctions against two IWF Member Federations following ITA referral

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Following its initial announcements about the referrals of the cases (here and here), the ITA has been informed by the IWF’s Member Federation Independent Sanctioning Panel (Independent Panel) that it has decided to issue the following decisions against the Weightlifting Federation of Vietnam and the Colombian Weightlifting Federation as a consequence of multiple Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) committed by member athletes of their respective federations. The Weightlifting Federation of Turkey’s quotas for the Tokyo Olympic Games have also been reduced.

According to the IWF Anti-Doping Rules (IWF ADR, Article 12), Member Federations can be suspended, fined and/or have other privileges withdrawn when the athletes, officials or athlete support personnel (ASP) of the Member Federation are found to have committed ADRVs.

Moreover, pursuant to the IWF Qualification System for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 (IWF OQS), the Independent Panel may also withdraw quota places from Member Federations with regards to the Games when members of the Member Federation are sanctioned for ADRVs.

The case of the Weightlifting Federation of Vietnam (WFV)

The case against the WFV concerns four athletes1 who tested positive for prohibited steroids and were respectively sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years. The WFV was facing consequences under the IWF OQS only since the ADRVs at stake were committed over the period of the Tokyo qualification period (1 November 2018 to 22 July 2021) and not in a calendar year as provided under Article 12 IWF ADR.

After review of the written submission of the parties, the Independent Panel found that the WFV committed a breach of Article 4(a) of the IWF OQS and withdrew six out of the eight quotas available for the WVF, leaving the WVF with two quotas (1 male and 1 female).

The Independent Panel Decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”).

The decision can be found here.

The case of the Colombian Weightlifting Federation (Federación Colombiana De Levantamiento De Pesas – FCLP)

The case against the FCLP concerns three athletes2 who tested positive for the prohibited steroid Boldenone and metabolite on 20 January 2020. Pursuant to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS ADD) award of 10 June 2021, where the ITA represented the IWF, the athletes were found to have committed ADRVs and were sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of 4 years. CAS ADD did not accept that the prohibited substances came from meat contamination. The athletes have not appealed the decision before CAS.

The FCLP was facing consequences under the IWF ADR and the IWF OQS since the three ADRVs were committed during a calendar year, as well as during the Tokyo qualification period.

The FCLP did not challenge the breaches of the IWF ADR and the IWF OQS and accepted the following consequences:

  • Withdrawal of 5 out of the 8 quotas for the Tokyo Olympic Games, leaving the FCLP with 2 male quotas and 1 female quota.
  • For the duration of one year (starting on 29 June 2021 when the terms have been agreed and until 29 June 2022):
    • withdrawal of the right to organize IWF Events3, IWF Congresses, IWF Executive Board meetings, meetings of IWF Commissions and Committees (if the right to organize such event taking place during the period of sanction has been allocated to the Member Federation prior to the notification of the sanction, the event shall be considered as revoked);
    • exclusion from participating in the IWF Congress with voting rights;
    • withdrawal of the right to submit proposals for inclusion on the Agenda of the IWF Congress;
    • withdrawal of the right to take part in and benefit from the IWF Development program apart from Education and anti-doping seminars.
  • The FCLP ensures that its athletes and ASP attend two anti-doping education sessions hosted by the ITA (in Spanish) within the next 12 months and to bear the ITA’s related costs and the costs of ensuring that the athletes and ASP are available, if any;
  • The FCLP makes its athletes and ASP aware of the ITA’s confidential reporting platform Reveal, the FCLP posts a link on its website to the ITA’s Reveal platform, and the FCLP athletes and ASP download the ITA’s Reveal reporting app (once available);
  • The FCLP ensures that it shares the dates and locations of training camps of the National Team’s athletes with the ITA on a timely basis;
  • The FCLP makes its athletes and ASP available for an interview with the ITA, upon ITA’s simple request;
  • The FCLP cannot apply for a conditional lifting of the suspension as per 12.6.1 Article IWF ADR.
  • No fine is to be imposed against the FCLP given the cost saving of this settlement procedure and absence of appeal procedure.
  • The FCLP accepts to waive all rights or claims for damages in the scope of this proceeding.

Since the FCLP has accepted the consequences of the breaches, the Independent Panel Decision cannot be appealed to CAS.

The decision can be found here.

The case of the Turkey Weightlifting Federation (TWF)

As a result of ITA’s investigation report published on 24 June 2021, the ITA asserted that, in 2013, Mr. Hasan Akkus, then president of the TWF, colluded with the IWF to change the responsible result management authority for 17 Turkish athletes from the IWF to the TWF. The athletes in question tested positive in November and December of 2012 in connection with testing missions conducted by the IWF. The proceedings against Mr. Akkus are ongoing.

Considering these ADRVs are deemed as international level cases, the TWF has reached 32 ADRVs during the period from 8 August 2008 until 22 July 2021, which means that the Member Federation is only eligible to qualify one 1 male and 1 female for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 pursuant to Article 3 of the IWF OQS.

The case will be referred to the Independent Panel for further sanctions in accordance to Article 12 of the IWF ADR. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

The ITA has processed the cases with a view of obtaining decisions from the Independent Panel within the deadlines of the IWF OQS. The ITA has informed the IWF of the outcomes of these cases so the remaining quotas can be reallocated by the IWF in accordance with the IWF OQS.

The ITA will not comment further on these matters at this stage.

The original article can be found here.

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