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Positive sample by Bochkov doesn't stop Russians in the IWF elections

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Maxim Agapitov announces candidacy to be elected IWF President

Russian weightlifter Rodion Bochkov has been given a provisional suspension over charges for doping abuse. The International Testing Authority (ITA) announced that he has violated anti-doping regulations. Last month Bochkov tested positive out of competition for the anabolic steroid dehydrochloromethyl-testosterone metabolite (DHCMT). Another doping sample, collected from Bochkov in 2012, allegedly contained banned performance enhancing drugs. Charges are based on the data from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory and an investigation on behalf of Professor Richard McLaren. The positive samples from Bochkov not only discredit the athlete's achievements, but also indirectly wise questions about the position of another Russian, who is running for the presidency of the IWF.


Maxim Agapitov, Head of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) and Interim President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF), has announced his candidacy for President in the elections of IWF, due to be held in Uzbekistan on December, 20 and 21, and has launched his own manifesto to campaign on an “Anti-doping Аgenda”. Will the incident with Bochkov have a negative impact on Agapitov's efforts?

“The Russian Weightlifting Federation firmly adheres to the policy of zero tolerance for anti-doping rule violators,” said Agapitov. “The RWF, complies with the requirements of international anti-doping legislation, and is ready to provide comprehensive assistance to anti-doping organisations in investigating the incident.”

“We are waiting for a final decision to be made by the competent authority, the CAS or the IWF panel. We consider it necessary to exclude any doubts and possible double interpretations, including in the context of the IWF election campaign”.

Agapitov has been fighting against doping for a long time, but his own success is always questioned by people, who use or spread doping. He became the World Champion in 1997, as a clean athlete, although he was originally third in the competition. Like all other athletes, he was being tested after the Ceremony. All his competitors received positive tests, but he was clean. Now Agapitov’s success is again partly dependent on the history of Bochkov's doping and readiness of officials reforming the IWF, known for corruption and manipulation with doping.

“Now the world of weightlifting is on the cusp of a historic decision”, Agapitov said. “To become a clean sport, abandoning doping and corruption forever, or to return to the dark times, where clean athletes have no chance of success”.

Allegations of corruption and cover-ups of doping samples caused the resignation of the IWF president Tamas Ajan. In June 2020, Professor Richard McLaren, a specialist in sports law, claimed that the Federation's President, Tamas Ajan, was corrupt. In a report on the IWF he showed details of “vote buying by Ajan and other IWF officials as well as doping tests that were covered up and over $10 million of missing funds.”

The International Testing Agency accused Ajan of complicity together with other high ranking weightlifting officials Nicu Vlad and Hasan Akkus. It has been alleged that indirectly, Ayan's manipulations could have been supported by another high ranking official, Atilla Adamfi (Ayan's son-in-law). The IWF Director General Attila Adamfi moved on from the Federation after 25 years of service, before the presentation of McLaren’s report. Deliberate deception about the anti-doping work of the IWF have led to terrible consequences for the sport. Now the inclusion of weightlifting in the programme of the 2024 Olympics is being questioned.

“When the retests of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics were made, Russia brought 10 positive samples. But we weren't the only ones who got into this situation. As you know, more than 60 positive samples of athletes from 18 countries were uncovered. I realised that the problem is becoming massive, that it is a global failure. This happened due to corruption and manipulation in the IWF,” says Agapitov.

Despite the latest news, Agapitov is confident that Russia has been an example of how to combat doping in sport. He has personally campaigned and fought against doping. Russian adult weightlifting athletes haven't received positive samples on international competitions for more than 4 years. Now their rights to the competition have been restored in full. When he headed the RWF in 2016, Russians were totally banned.

Agapitov advocates serious reform in the IWF, arguing that National Federations shouldn't be held responsible for doping by their athletes, if they really assist in catching the cheaters. In the future, the IWF will become a powerful intellectual, communications and administrative centre and will provide 24/7 services to assist the national federations.

“Positive doping results from out-of-competition tests should become the responsibility of coaches. National federations should not be responsible for positive samples if the cheaters were exposed and caught with their assistance”, Agapitov continued.

Money from fines should be allocated to the development of child sport. The national federations will have an opportunity to develop weightlifting. The “anti-doping agenda” pays great attention to transparency and awareness.

“Anti-doping work must be more transparent and we must strive to achieve this. Information on the athletes tested, the dates of the samples and the location, and even who carried out the tests, should be available in the form of a quarterly report on the IWF website”, Agapitov went on to say.

“This will give professionals an understanding not only of the number of tests, but also of their quality. Coaches and federations will understand the fact that not only individual athletes are tested, but also competitors. This will help to create a level playing field and an understanding that everyone works under the same rules and the same control system. Other priorities of the IWF should be the popularisation of weightlifting and the development of the institution of sponsorship”.

But can it be true that Russia has turned out to be clean in weightlifting as Agapitov said? Is Bochkov’s story more an exception than the rule? It is well known that McLaren investigated the case not only of the IWF, but also the Sochi Olympics. He claimed “more than 1,000 Russian competitors in various sports benefited from the cover-up of positive samples from 2011 to 2015”. But athletes of the RWF had already been suspended and Russia managed to work closely with the national weightlifting team. In the context of the CAS sanctions against Russia and the unproven recent charges against Bochkov, Agapitov's nomination looks brave if not incredible.
 
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