Antonio Urso has resigned from the IWF Executive Board because of what he describes as its "crazy and destructive behaviour" ©IWF

Antonio Urso, one of weightlifting’s most prominent anti-corruption campaigners, has resigned from the Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) because of its "crazy and destructive" behaviour.

In the past three days the IWF has had three different leaders, has faced severe criticism from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has been labelled "corrupt" by the chair of its own Athletes Commission and has now lost one of its most respected Board members.

Urso, President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) and an outspoken opponent of the former IWF President Tamás Aján, sent a strongly worded email to all members of the Board tonight.

It said he was resigning "with immediate and irrevocable effect", and was sent within 90 minutes of the Board’s decision to appoint Britain’s Mike Irani as Interim President.

"The reason for this decision," Urso writes, "stems from the fact that I no longer share the political line of this Board, which seems to me crazy and destructive of the future of world weightlifting.

"Until now I have hoped to see a forward-looking project that would take into consideration the current situation in order to build a solid foundation but I have only seen personalisms without any functional purpose for our sport.

"As President of the EWF I will lead this Continental Federation until the next elections which are likely to take place next April 2021."

The week started with Ursula Papandrea of the United States as leader of the IWF.

On Tuesday Papandrea, whose attempts to reform the governing body were strongly supported by the IOC, was voted out of office by the Board at a meeting she did not call and did not attend.

Urso resigned from the IWF EB within 90 minutes of Mike Irani being appointed as Interim President ©BMI Healthcare
Urso resigned from the IWF EB within 90 minutes of Mike Irani being appointed as Interim President ©BMI Healthcare

The IWF’s first vice-president Intarat Yodbangtoey was appointed Interim President in her place, in line with the Constitution, but there was such an outcry about the decision he stepped aside within 48 hours.

Intarat is from Thailand, a nation with a bad doping record which is banned from weightlifting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He was named in the McLaren Report into weightlifting corruption as a close ally of Aján, who resigned in April, though he denied being a "bag man" who paid out the cash for votes bought by Aján.

Those votes might have been the difference between Urso winning or losing the last IWF Presidential election in 2017.

The Italian was confident of victory but was beaten by Aján, who held high office at the IWF for 44 years and was shown by the McLaren investigative team to have overseen corruption in finance, anti-doping procedures and vote-rigging.

After the publication of the McLaren Report in June Urso said he was considering suing Aján, and would wait until the outcome of any judicial proceedings.

Urso – re-elected as president of the Italian federation last week with more than 90 per cent of the vote - provided plenty of evidence to the McLaren investigation while many of his fellow Board members were criticised for their lack of cooperation.

He had supported Papandrea’s attempts to appoint independent experts on to new commissions and did not vote for her removal from office.

Urso’s resignation leaves the IWF with a Board of 18, seven of whom are from nations who are banned from Tokyo 2020 or have lost athlete quotas because of multiple doping offences.

Meanwhile the Executive Committee of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (FTAR) has announced its support for Maxim Agapitov in its November elections.

Agapitov, who took charge four years ago, has reformed the sport throughout Russia but his federation is plagued by historic doping cases.