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Egypt to pay $160,000 in hope of weightlifting World Championships reprieve

Mohamed Ehab, one of the world’s most popular weightlifters, has been planning a spectacular return to competition at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships next month – but his name does not appear on the list of entries.

Not one of the 10 athletes selected by Egypt is listed because insidethegames has learned, the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation (EWF) failed to meet a number of conditions laid down when it was suspended for two years in September 2019.

The EWF, which will elect a new leader next week to replace the outgoing Mahmoud Mahgoub, showed a “worrying lack of care” according to a report from the IWF’s Independent Monitoring Group (IMG).

The IMG refused to exempt the EWF from a $160,000 (£120,000/€143,000) fine that it could have avoided.

Because of the ruling, issued last Friday, Egypt cannot compete at the World Championships in Tashkent in Uzbekistan next month, or anywhere else until the fine has been paid to the IWF.

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Ehab will be distraught and furious if he cannot compete, having returned to training last year after saying early in Egypt’s suspension that he had retired from the sport.

The Olympic bronze medallist – he was third in the 77 kilograms at Rio 2016 and could move up to second when a doping case involving the gold medallist Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan is closed – has been posting big numbers in training.

Ehab, 32 last week, said recently he was “preparing for world war” in the 81kg category.

One of the most anticipated contests in Tashkent also features the phenomenal Bulgarian teenager Karlos Nasar, China’s Li Dayin, CJ Cummings of the United States, Brayan Rodallegas of Colombia and several other top contenders.

Egypt’s National Olympic Committee is said to have agreed to pay up, but even then it must wait for confirmation from the IWF that everything is in order for Egypt to compete for the first time since the suspension expired two months ago.

Mahgoub, who has led the EWF for nine years, confirmed that he will not stand when the National Federation elects a new leadership on December 3.

Among the candidates for general secretary is Mohammed Ehssan, 37, a bronze medallist super-heavyweight at the 2014 IWF World Championships and twice a junior world champion.

Mahgoub, who sits on the Executive Board of the IWF, told insidethegames, “The money is in process to pay, and we hope we can participate in Tashkent.

“Our athletes are registered.”

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Mahgoub said “the situation of weightlifting in general” had contributed towards his decision to stand aside.

He cited corruption scandals under the reign of the IWF’s disgraced former President, Tamás Aján, and still blames Aján for Egypt’s suspension from the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Mahgoub says Aján never explained why there was a delay of more than two-and-a-half years between seven young athletes testing positive in December 2016 and Egypt being banned.

In a previous conversation he said, “When I asked Tamás Aján about this face-to-face I got no answer.

“There’s no logic to it – if we were going to be suspended why did it not happen in [January] 2017 when the positives were confirmed, why delay all that time?”

The EWF was fined $200,000 (£150,000/€179,000) when it was suspended in September 2019, of which $40,000 (£30,000/€36,000) was due within six months.

That was paid and the remaining $160,000 would have been eliminated had the EWF met conditions laid down at the time by the Independent Member Federations Sanctions panel.

The IMG was unimpressed with the Egyptians’ efforts in five areas that involved informing the IWF of the athletes likely to be selected, their whereabouts, details of their support personnel and a schedule of national team training camps.

It was also told to organise anti-doping education seminars every six months throughout the suspension, under IWF supervision.

It did not do so, and instead told the IMG that it had been “continuously following up with its athletes and giving all possible advice, guidelines and information pertinent to anti-doping”.

Even more worrying, the IMG said, was the fact that the EWF had given wrong information on the whereabouts of five athletes, from a team of 11.

“This lack of care in handling the structural reforms that the (September 2019) decision induced is worrying… as it suggests that the decision was not even properly addressed,” said the IMG report.

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