Former weightlifting federation president gets life ban

Tamas Ajan Weightlifting
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The former Olympic official who ran the sport of weightlifting for more than 40 years was banned for life on Thursday for covering up doping cases.

Tamás Aján of Hungary was found guilty of charges relating to tampering, fraudulent conduct and complicity in covering-up years of doping cases, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said.

The case came after allegations broadcast by German network ARD in January 2020 were verified by anti-doping investigator Richard McLaren.

McLaren was appointed by the International Weightlifting Federation when Aján was forced out of office after 20 years as president. He was general secretary for the previous 24 years.

Fallout from the case and the IWF’s response to it has put weightlifting’s Olympic status at risk. The International Olympic Committee has left weightlifting off the initial list of sports for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, but it can still be added.

As a trusted sports leader, Aján was made an IOC member for 10 years until 2010 and helped to choose Olympics host cities. He also represented Olympic sports at the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The CAS statement said the case against Aján involved “complicity in anti-doping rule violations involving multiple weightlifting athletes over a period of many years since 2012.”

During that period, Aján sat on the WADA foundation board and was an honorary member of the IOC. He resigned from the IOC within weeks of the allegations being aired.

A life ban for complicity was also imposed on Romanian weightlifting official Nicu Vlad, a former vice president of the IWF Anti-Doping Commission.

CAS did not specify the allegations Thursday, but said it would publish the detailed verdict “in due course.”

In his June 2020 report, McLaren said his team found “systematic governance failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF.”

McLaren said at least 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records, that athletes whose cases were covered up went on to win medals at major championships, and that Aján received fines in cash from member federations. Millions of dollars was unaccounted for by the IWF, the investigation concluded.

Weightlifting’s historic doping issues were also confirmed in an IOC program of reanalysis of samples from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Games using a new test to detect steroids. Weightlifting had more than 20 doping cases from each Olympics.

The life bans were announced 10 days before the IWF holds elections, including for a president to replace Aján more than two years after he was ousted.

Aján’s son-in-law, Attila Adamfi, was one of 16 candidates for general secretary on a list published by the IWF last month. Adamfi was the IWF’s director general at the end of Aján’s presidency.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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