Update: We recorded a podcast episode about the findings of the report. Listen below.
The McLaren Weightlifting Investigation press conference was this morning and it was just about as damning and explosive as possible.
The investigators found evidence of a “dysfunctional organization” that was intentionally designed for former IWF President Tamas Ajan to maintain control.
Download the Full Report here (PDF) Key Points Below:
Culture of Fear
- Under the “autocratic” leadership of Ajan, the IWF maintained a culture of fear that prevented people from speaking out, even after he resigned
- E.g., they contacted over 20 Member Federation Presidents and/or General Secretaries; only four responded and only one (!) provided any information
- Only one current athlete came forward to speak with investigators
- They contacted 20 MF regarding doping fines. Most didn’t respond. Only Romania and Russia provided anything valuable.
- In genereal only very few people had the guts to talk. Only 2 of 5 VPs; Only 1 of 5 Contintenal Fed Presidents; Only 2 of 8 elected EB members.
“The IWF’s Constitution is to a great extent a façade of proper legal structure and operating rules. The reality is that the power in the IWF was usurped by Dr. Aján and executed through the Secretariat, with all staff thereof being personally appointed by the President. He was able to establish an operating methodology that enabled absolute authoritarian rule through manipulation of the Constitution by use of intimidation, fear and retaliation.”
- Control by Ajan maintained through (among other things) buying votes: Member Federations were bribed to support him and his candidates, e.g. When voting members went to vote they would have to take a picture of their ballot, and this photographic evidence would ensure they were paid
“The election results for the office of President and including the positions of the General Secretary Treasurer, 1st Vice President and five Vice Presidents were predetermined before any ballot was ever completed.”
Update: Phil Andrews, CEO of USAW, had this to say (during a press conference) in response to a question from Nick Butler about suspicions of vote rigging at the Pan American Federation elections this year: “I was actually the witness who brought that to the attention of the McLaren investigation, so it does not surprise me. And I will be more than happy to cooperate with any disciplinary or ethics investigation into those potential vote-rigging allegations in the Pan American elections.”
- At least $10.4 million unaccounted for; IWF used hidden bank accounts, endless exchanging of funds, and transfers to hide and divert money. They expect there to be more money that’s unaccounted for.
- Ajan was the sole person responsible for deciding if and when cash was reported and accounted for; McLaren used the phrases “tyranny of cash” and “awash in cash” to describe the IWF
- The financial records are “little more than bits and pieces,” according to McLaren, which makes it “absolutely impossible” to determine how much money was used for legitimate IWF operations
- People were told not to ask questions of Ajan regarding financial matters (an example of his autocratic control)
RWF provided account excerpts showing it paid $120,000 USD to IWF over this period; “No trace of these funds can be found in the receipts or ledgers of the IWF.”
The IWF’s cash management and standard of accounting is surprisingly amateur for a sports federation. It is abysmal at best.
- 40 positive doping findings remain in a sort of limbo, hidden in IWF records due to incomplete results management
- These include gold and silver medalists from the World Championships (has been passed on to WADA)
- Their findings support the German documentary’s claim about Azeri athletes competing despite having returned positive test results (results were delayed to allow for competition)
- Interestingly, no evidence of misconduct was found in their investigations into the HUNADO laboratory
- IWF is in need of resuscitation and restoration, per McLaren; his organization outlined a series of actions to take in response to the findings
Update: In deleted emails, President of Azerbaijan thanked Aján for delaying doping suspensions. (via)
“Dr. Aján would often stoke the embers of his own legend, for example, by saying he could turn dirty samples clean and clean samples dirty, to ensure his Member Federations stayed loyal and in line.”
Ajan told Nicu Vlad (President of Romanian WF): “do not forgot, next time we must decide the countries inside the Olympic games or outside, we will decide who will be in Tokyo and who will not;”
Check back for more updates as we comb through the full report! It’s over 120 pages of material and is the most comprehensive look at IWF corruption and mismanagement from the period starting in 2009 and continuing to the present day.
Update: The recommendations given in the report are far reaching and paint a good picture of how things are being run right now.
A. IMMEDIATE ACTION
1. Conduct a full-scale independent forensic audit of the last ten fiscal years, including information uncovered in this investigation and with full access to all accounts. In this regard, an immediate examination of the books and records held in two “safe” cupboards in the Budapest office discovered 2 weeks ago.
2. Alter the method of voting at the upcoming Electoral Congress and ensure effective oversight of the process.
3. Change all email passwords used by everyone in IWF.
4. Do not permit any cash payment of antidoping fines or sums over $500 USD.
5. Any payment of necessity paid or received in cash must be accompanied by a serial sequentially numbered receipt signed by the recipient. The receipt must be saved to create an audit trail. Two people must witness the receipt, movement and banking of cash funds.
6. All cash received to be immediately deposited in the designated bank account with only a small float maintained in the office for incidental expenses.
7. The closure of all bank accounts in Budapest banks.
8. Joint signatures must be put in place and complied with on all bank accounts to be opened or remaining in use.
9. Hire a full-time financial accountant reporting to a revitalized General Secretary Treasurer position.
10.Review and reform the financial powers of the President.
11.Implement professional electronic accounting software.
12.Takeover and continue the operation of the independent whistleblower hotline established by the MIIT.
B. OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS
i. Constitutional Reform
1. Redraft IWF Constitution to reduce the number of members of the Executive Board (“EB”) and make it the central legislative body, instead of the Congress, and pass By-Laws based on these recommendations.
2. Congress reviews all actions of the EB but only has legislative powers in respect of finances and antidoping. All other legislative powers to EB.
3. Only one half the EB is elected at each Electoral Congress, thereby necessitating an Electoral Congress every two years. Serve a maximum of 2 terms.
4. EB members to be suspended from their EB position if their National Federation is sanctioned for doping violations.
5. Publicize a reformed IWF Constitution and By-Laws once the initial recommendations have been implemented to establish renewed trust in the new management and administration.
6. Proportional representation on the EB approximating the gender breakdown of the sport.
7. Reform the constitution to reserve one seat on the EB for a currently active Athlete.
8. Provide for an Integrity Officer with sufficient budget to oversee the IWF’s operations.
9. Accounts and balances to be updated quarterly to the EB.
10.Include in the Constitution a position of Director General and define the role and responsibilities.
ii. Electoral Reform
1. Examine one vote for each country voting, with a view to the use of a weighted voting system.
2. The Integrity Officer to have sufficient budget to have effective oversight of elections at Electoral Congresses. Establish independent oversight protocols in respect of election monitoring and control.
3. Elections to be monitored by independent scrutineers selected by the Integrity Officer.
4. Establish a committee responsible to process applications for election of all Vice-Presidents and senior positions in the IWF. Nominees be required to declare business and property interests and how they are funded. Each candidate’s suitability to be an electoral candidate to be examined by the Integrity Officer. The committee to obtain a confidential personal report from the Integrity Officer before a candidate can be nominated by the committee for the stated electoral positions.
5. All first time elected EB members to undergo EB education training program and IWF orientation and attend a director’s education program organised and developed for the IWF. The object of the education to demonstrate the division between a director as policy maker and the management of the operation, which is a function of the full-time paid staff.
6. Establish and implement yearly training modules on matters of corruption, bribery, and conflict of interest.
iii. Financial Reform
1. Reform Constitution to require General Secretary Treasurer financial oversight. General Secretary Treasurer responsible for the development and use of Budget for major competitions.
2. Where possible, the General Secretary Treasurer should be co-located with the Secretariat who is responsible for the administration of the finances.
3. Financial responsibilities should be removed from the President and vested in the Director General of the organisation.
4. Establish an Investment Management Committee to oversee investments with power to hire, review and terminate the financial managers. Report annually to the General Secretary Treasurer and the EB.
5. Establish an internal audit committee reporting to the Director General to conduct an internal audit prior to the external audit.
6. All new sponsorship and broadcasting contracts to be analysed and agreed by the EB in advance of implementation or renewal.
7. Payments to EB members and others receiving attendance fees by wire and total for each individual published on the IWF website annually.
iv. Governance Reform
8. Term limits to two quadrennial periods for all positions (refer to Constitutional reform point 3). Consider age limits for all EB members.
9. Integrity Officer to conduct due diligence of all EB members to ensure they meet established qualification criteria. Investigate and review background of those running for election in senior EB positions.
10.Review and revise the Code of Ethics; Disciplinary Code; and Conflicts of Interest Policy to be more comprehensive and oversee the observance of the same by the Director General and Integrity Officer.
11.Establish Integrity Officer with powers to investigate disciplinary code violations and recommend appropriate sanction.
12.Establish an external independent adjudicative body to hear disputes over the Code of Ethics; Disciplinary Code and Conflicts of Interest with appeal to CAS.
13.Adopt the independently operated and monitored confidential whistleblower hotline established by the MIIT to inspire confidence in the system. Allegations of malpractice, where appropriate, to be independently investigated by the Integrity Officer.
14.Redesign the IWF website to be a more effective communication vehicle to promote an open and transparent organisation.
15.Develop a nepotism policy.
v. Anti-Doping Control Reform
The outsourcing of the administration and application of the Anti-Doping Control Program to the International Testing Agency including results management and first instance adjudication by the Court of Arbitration for Sport leaves little for the IWF to do.
16.Proscribe the relationship of the Independent Member Federation Sanctions Panel to the outsourced Anti-Doping Control Program administered by the International Testing Agency. Decisions of the Independent Member Federation Sanctions Panel to be determined by the internal first instance adjudicative panel of the IWF.
17.The role of the Anti-Doping Commission to be revised and described differently in the Constitution. The role is now one of monitoring and reviewing on an annual basis the outsourced actions of the ITA to ensure full compliance with the WADA Code. Provide an annual report to the Executive Board on the outsourced institution’s performance. Monitor and respond expeditiously to Member Federation complaints regarding the IWF Anti- Doping Control Program.