There are  three candidates to be the European Weightlifting Federation's new President ©EWF

Candidates from Turkey, Russia and Moldova are in the running to replace Antonio Urso as President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF).

Urso, the Italian who was first elected in 2008, is standing down “on ethical principles” after serving three terms.

Hasan Akkus, a widely published academic who is a professor of sports science in Turkey, declared his intent to stand for President last year.

He has plenty of support, having been general secretary of the EWF for eight years.

Akkus was elected unopposed to that role in 2016.

When nominations closed at midnight on Sunday (February 2) there were seven candidates for general secretary in this year’s elections, which will be held in Moscow in the first week of April before the European Championships begin in the Russian capital.

The Russian Presidential candidate is Maxim Agapitov, a member of the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) who has overseen a raft of changes in the sport in his homeland since becoming President of the Russian Federation in 2016.

Agapitov, who is unhappy at the way Russia has been punished for historic doping violations, has been strongly critical of the global governing body and its long-standing leader Tamás Aján in the past 18 months.

The third candidate to replace Urso is Antonio Conflitti, interim President of the Moldovan Weightlifting Federation (FHRM), who was born in Italy and has dual nationality.

Conflitti worked in Italy for 15 years and has lived in Moldova for 11 years.

Russian Weightlifting Federation President Maxim Agapitov is among those running to be  European Weightlifting Federation President ©NTV
Russian Weightlifting Federation President Maxim Agapitov is among those running to be European Weightlifting Federation President ©NTV

Moldova featured in the recent German TV documentary that has caused so much trouble in weightlifting, alleging corruption in the sport and leading Aján to stand aside as President of the IWF for 90 days pending independent investigations.

A Moldovan doctor was secretly filmed by undercover reporters talking of bribery and manipulation of samples of athletes who competed at the 2015 IWF World Championships.

Conflitti issued a statement denying any corruption by FHRM and saying that the doctor was not a member of the federation.

He was appointed interim President a year ago and highlighted recent reforms in Moldova, another nation with a bad record of doping in the past.

“There is a new generation of coaches and athletes,” he said.

All three Presidential candidates are also standing for the general secretary role, as are four others; Alex Padure of Romania, Tryggve Duun of Norway, Milan Mihajlovic of Serbia, and the EWF treasurer Astrit Hasani of Kosovo.

Urso, who is also a member of the IWF Executive Board and like Agapitov a critic of Aján, said he was standing down because he did not want to “repeat the bad example of the IWF, where one man has been in power for over 40 years”.