The International Weightlifting Federation elections are set to proceed in June after delegates helped push through a change to rules concerning the vetting of candidates ©Getty Images

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) elections in June can go ahead after a last-minute round-up of delegates helped to push through a hugely significant change to rules concerning vetting of candidates.

When a Special Congress began online at 9am UK time there were not enough delegates taking part.

At least 121 of the IWF’s members were needed, 75 per cent, for any Constitutional amendments to be made - and a clear majority in favour of proposed changes was needed too.

That led to a change in order of the agenda so that matters that did not require a 75 per cent quorum could be dealt with first, giving the IWF time to chase up absent delegates.

Five independent members of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission, who had been nominated by the IWF Executive Board, were duly approved, which took about 20 minutes.

The number of delegates had started at 113, and crept up slowly until, at 9.42am BST, Interim President Mike Irani was able to announce that 121 delegates were now registered.

It rose again to 123 by the time the crucial decision on a raft of amendments was taken just before 10.30am and the result was an overwhelming 107 in favour, 96.4 per cent of the valid votes.

The most important rule changes, according to the IWF legal counsel Jean-Pierre Morand, are those concerning eligibility of candidates, an issue that led to procedural problems at a previous Congress and caused a further delay to the elections.

After today’s vote, prospective candidates can make direct representations to the Eligibility Determination Panel, the body that carries out vetting procedures, and those who are deemed ineligible now have the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Another significant change was making any Constitutional amendments effective immediately, rather than delaying them for 90 days.

The decisions mean that the elections, which should have been held in May last year, can finally take place on June 26 and 27 as planned.

A new leadership will be voted in, featuring far more women than now, as well as three seats on the Executive Board for athletes, to appease the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

IWF Interim President Mike Irani addresses delegates during the virtual Congress ©ITG
IWF Interim President Mike Irani addresses delegates during the virtual Congress ©ITG

The IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly stressed the need for a change of culture within the sport and Irani twice made reference to the fact that Bach regards the IWF as "a problem child."

After the vote, Irani told delegates that they had taken "the first very important step towards a successful, fair and efficient electoral process" and said: "We’ve arrived here because you made it happen.

"We’ve come a long way but let us remember, as we go through our nominations and eligibility process until June, the eyes of the world will be upon us.

"In December the IOC had already cut our quota for Paris 2024 and announced that weightlifting had been conditionally removed from the LA Games in 2028."

He pointed out that Bach had said the IWF and its future leadership "must demonstrate its transition towards compliance and effective change in culture."

Irani continued: "The changes we’ve made are important.

"From my heart I say this: whatever your position with respect to present Executive Board, I ask for your help.

"Culture change is revealed by what we say and what we do. Throughout the debate of the coming months I ask that you always act and speak constructively and with positivity.

"Let’s make Paris secure, no more positive tests, no more vitriolic letters to various sites. Only then can a problem child become a functioning adult.

"A year ago, the IOC set us three key tests - reform our governance, ensure clean weightlifting competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and deliver culture change through the holding of elections. With two of those already completed, the IWF is now well on its way to delivering the third."

Morand told delegates that everything was now in place for elections to go ahead "hopefully without too many challenges."

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has previously referred to the International Weightlifting Federation as
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has previously referred to the International Weightlifting Federation as "a problem child" ©Getty Images

He said: "Paraphrasing Churchill, this is not the end or even the beginning of the end, but it is maybe the end of the beginning."

An attempt by Russia to propose another amendment to the Constitution, concerning Article 13.12 - eligibility of candidates from nations with multiple doping violations, and the time frame of those violations - failed because it needed the support of 20 per cent of members and had only five, Morand ruled.

Irani highlighted a comment from Atma Maharaj of Fiji, who complained that biographical details of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission members had not been provided to members, who were effectively being asked to vote in favour of something on which they had been inadequately informed.

"This is no better than the last Congress when we approved a financial report without actually seeing a financial report," Maharaj said, referring back to the lack of information released to members on the IWF’s finances.

Irani said the biographical information was available "should you wish to see it" but agreed that the IWF could have done better.

"The suggestion from Fiji is well received and will be acted upon," he said.

Mohamed Jaloud, the IWF general secretary, made a brief appearance at the end and said, looking forward to June: "Now we will show the IOC that our Congress can choose the best to lead weightlifting."

The five members of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission are Gabriel Nigon of Switzerland, who is the chair, Nasr El-Din Azzam of Egypt, Ahmad Bin Nooh Al-Thani of Qatar, Lorena Novoa of Colombia, Charles Quagliata of Australia and the two reserve members are Ana Maria Montoya Ruales of Peru and Valéry Horyna of Switzerland.

An Independent Investigative Chamber was also established comprising Dev Kumar Parmar of Britain, Elda Gjoka of Albania, Adnan Rhoma of Libya, Romain Bizzini of France and Lorenza Mel of Italy.

The nominated members have a background in law, or weightlifting, or have worked for other International Federations.