International Weightlifting Federation president steps down while investigation continues

Tomas Ajan
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GENEVA (AP) — The long-time leader of weightlifting’s governing body resigned Wednesday amid an investigation of suspected corruption exposed by a television program.

The International Weightlifting Federation said it “approved the retirement” of the 81-year-old Tamas Aján, its president for the past 20 years and a former International Olympic Committee member.

“We can now begin the work of determining a fresh path towards achieving the full potential of our sport,” IWF acting president Ursula Papandrea said in a statement.

Aján had stepped aside soon after German network ARD broadcast allegations in January implicating him in financial wrongdoing involving Olympic revenues and covering up doping cases.

The Hungarian official denied wrongdoing, but in March resigned his honorary IOC membership “in order to save the Olympic movement from negative rumors.” Aján had been a full member of the IOC for 10 years until 2010.

Weightlifting’s reputation under Aján had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

After the ARD broadcast, the interim IWF leadership invited Richard McLaren, lead investigator in the Russian doping scandal, to assess the allegations. That probe is ongoing, the IWF said.

Millions of dollars in the Budapest-based IWF’s share of funding from past Olympics was unaccounted for in Swiss bank accounts controlled by Aján, the program claimed.

ARD also claimed there were irregularities in how samples were collected from lifters, many by Hungary’s national anti-doping agency.

“I offered the best of my life to our beloved sport,” Aján said Wednesday in the IWF statement.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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