Despite two different sporting bodies vying to run weightlifting in Pakistan, the International Weightlifting Federation has decided to let the dispute continue for now and has backed the existing body, which is being challenged by a government-backed organisation. While one body, the current sports authority of the sport in Pakistan, holds a letter from the IWF backing them, the other body has been approved by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
The argument being made by the government-backed sports board is that rampant corruption has taken place in the current weightlifting organisation and this move will allow for a fresh start.
Hafiz Zafar Iqbal, a former national champion who was appointed to the interim committee, said to Insidethegames.biz, “The intention of the PWLF is to protect the corrupt, while the PSB has acted to maintain discipline, as a controlling body of sports in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation (PWLF) has said that the sole intention of PSB has been to take over the Pakistan Olympic Association and this is a move towards making that a reality. PWLF chief Hafiz Imran Butt said that there is no law or validity of the PSB taking over weightlifting in the country, in this manner.
“The PWLF is not a banned federation and is working under its own constitution and under the constitutions of the POA and the IWF – and none of them has banned the PWLF. The PSB was created to provide infrastructure to National Federations, which it is not doing. The dispute has been created by the PSB just to put, by force, a few retired army friends at the helm of affairs of a properly constituted weightlifting federation,” said Butt.
The Pakistan Sports Board on the other hand, said that the PWLF were directly responsible for the doping violations that have occurred in the past months. Pakistani weightlifter Talha Talib tested positive twice in November and December along with six other team members who had been provisionally suspended for doping violations. Four of those violations were based on samples not being provided.
Iqbal said that three of these six violations were made by the three sons of Amjad Amin Butt, the vice president and former secretary of PWLF. He then added that in the two other violations, the coach of both players was Irfan Butt, the son of PWLF president Hafiz Imran Butt.
“I fail to understand how the POA and PWLF managed to deceive the IWF and fetch a letter in favour of the suspended President. I would request the IWF to review its decision and withdraw support of Hafiz Imran Butt until finality of the inquiry,” said Iqbal.
Irrespective of where Pakistan weightlifting goes, their current bleak circumstances are compounded by the fact that they most likely face a ban from the sport for multiple doping violations and are most likely not going to be able to participate at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.