By David Roberts
Welsh weightlifting’s golden boy Gareth Evans has welcomed a move by the International Weightlifting Federation to create a new athlete’s commission to give competitors a greater say in how the sport is run.
Evans, an Olympian with Team GB in 2012 and a gold medalist in the 69K class for Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is already a member of the board at Weightlifting Wales and told Inside The Games website he may consider putting his name forward for the new IWF commission.
Both male and female lifters are being sought for the 10 strong panel, which will be comprised of current or recently-retired weightlifters from all five continental federations around the world.
The move comes in the wake of new interim president Ursula Papandrea taking over the helm of the sport as its first female president in the wake of the resignation amid a corruption scandal of long-standing president, Tamas Ajan.
Papandrea, who heads the USA Weightlifting Federation, called for athletes’ representation on the executive board. Nominations are now open and she hopes to have the athletes commission up and running within a matter of weeks.
“An athletes’ advisory council is something that has been discussed by the IWF Board and now it needs to happen: there’s no reason for it not to exist,” she said.
For the first term, those selected by the IWF Board will sit on the body from September 1 until the end of the scheduled dates for next year’s postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“There’s going to be more communication between the IWF and the athletes and that’s a good thing,” said Evans.
“I like that they want to give more power and influence to the athlete, as we are the ones most affected by what goes on.
“We need to make more of an effort to put weightlifting in the public eye, give the sport more exposure.”
While there was an athletes’ commission during Ajan’s controversial reign, it was never encouraged to be active. Now, Papandrea is set to further shake up the old guard by breathing new life into the IWF.
The athletes’ commission will be, “an effective platform where the views of athletes are represented and the voice of athletes can be heard by advising the executive board on matters concerning weightlifting athletes,” the IWF said in a statement on the nomination process.
“In order to fulfil the IWF constitution and by-laws, the IWF has the responsibility to give athletes a voice in its governance and decision-making process, as athletes are the building blocks of the sport itself.”
Athletes’ views will be presented to the IWF’s various committees and commissions, and athletes will be asked for “agreement by a majority” to any reform and governance documents created by the board.
There are plans to have an athletes’ representative on the board, but that and other governance reforms have yet to be agreed.
Prospective candidates must have a clean doping record and, if they are no longer competing, must have retired no more than four years ago.
They must also be “in good standing” with their national federation, must have competed at continental, World or Olympic levels in recent years, must have conversational English, and be 18 or over.