Tamas Ajan:”The work carried out by Jahangir Askerov in the development of Azerbaijan weightlifting is fantastic”

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On September 19, President of IWF Tamas Ajan made an official visit to Baku and discussed a number of issues with the AZE WF leadership. He spoke on doping problem, the training and upbringing of athletes, the conditions created at the high level, as well as our athletes’ successes in international competitions. Ajan expressed his satisfaction with the work of AZE WF.

On September 20, press conference of IWF President Tamas Ajan took place at the Four Seasons Hotel. At the event attended by AZE WF General Secretary Rizvan Rasulov, the questions of media representatives were answered.

At the beginning, Tamas Ajan shared his thoughts: “My visit to Baku is for a short-term. Here, the prestigious tournament like Judo World Championship has started. Unfortunately, I will not be able to stay long. Azerbaijan people loves weightlifting sport. The results have been good enough. Regrettably, the samples taken from some weightlifters who participated in the Summer Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012 gave a positive result, penalties were applied. This was a good lesson for us. The head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach called me and said that the issue had become very serious, and if it continues, weightlifting can be removed from the Olympics program. His reactions are very clear. We must try to ensure that athletes do not take prohibited substances. For the fight against doping, I set up two special Commissions –Clean Sport Commission and Sport Program. If works in this sphere are not effective, the inclusion of weightlifting in the program of the next Summer Olympic Games will be under great doubt”.

“I like Azerbaijan very much, I love this country. Jahangir Askerov is one of the greatest leaders of national federations. What he is doing for weightlifting is fantastic. Also the work carried out by Vice-President Tofig Heydarov, General Secretary Rizvan Rasulov and others is worthy of praise. Opening of new training halls, purchase of inventories have a positive impact on the development of this sport in Azerbaijan. Therefore, I regret that Azerbaijan is in the list of 9 suspended countries. We consider Azerbaijan a very good partner. On June 11, the independent Clean Sport Commission reported to me that Azerbaijan was the first which country accepted all the criteria. Again, Azerbaijan athletes will be able to participate in the international competitions, as well as in the 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. This is the result of teamwork.”

At the end of press conference, numerous questions of journalists have been answered.

-Despite the fact that last few years a strong fighting has begun against doping, most doping cases are in Russia and other CIS countries. The conversation is not just about weightlifting. Somehow, the USA remains outside in this process. It’s as if their athletes are always “clean. In weightlifting, Chinese athletes make great successes. As we hear that, there are special nutritions that are not founded in the doping, but enhancing the effect? Don’t you think some kind of special control could be done to these countries’ athletes?
-I would like to give a detailed answer. Concerning the former Soviet training system, it was a part of the preparation to use “forbidden substances”. This also influenced the result of the athletes, and improved the performance. I was also studied carefully this kind of situations. According to the international publication, this kind of things increased the performance between 8-15%.Only briefly, if a competitor had a very good snatch 100kg, 7-8 kg “added” at the expense of preparations. The experts in this sphere know very well what the difference between lifting 100 kg, 105 kg or 108 kg. The same situation is in running, generally in athletics. A hammer thrower can do 65 meters, but with the assistance of substances he\she can lift this figure to 67-68m. I refer to the former Soviet Union, especially I do not mean Azerbaijan. In general, the whole world was surprised that the “soviets” showed very progressive, positive results: this was a peculiar training method to the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and others. That is why I do not criticize you, Union countries. At that time, the German Democratic Republic and the neighboring countries invited those coaches to work, and in the competitions the blood tests taken in the sport types where these coaches worked from the former Soviet and Socialist Bloc countries were “positive”. I am not intended to condemn all the coaches at that time. Because I’m from Hungary, and we had also the same. This was the answer to the first part of your question. After that, do not ever think that the USA is an exception, or any holy country. Positive results have been taken from their analysis in baseball. We all know about the famous event of the cyclist Lens Armstrong. It showed that doping is a common problem in the world and has become widespread. Therefore, the IOC created WADA that such an agency within the Committee, neither the national federations nor the international federation, would take full control of this issue seriously. In this way, our cooperation is very vital. Let’s not cheat one another. Thank you for your question.

-Notwithstanding the fighting, it is impossible to eradicate doping. How will it be possible to solve this problem in the near future?
– For 52 years I have been working in the international sports arena. During this time there have been positive doping results, and unfortunately, these cases may occur in the future. Doping in all sport types is inevitable. Because every time there will be athletes who are ready to go this way for the gold medal. But we believe that in the future the number of positive results will drop significantly. Why? Modern laboratories’ work style, technique is so up-to-date and so precise that they can even find banned substances in the analysis stored with the deep-freezing method of 10 years ago. Issues related to Beijing and London Olympics are examples. We are cooperating closely with IOC and WADA. Also, we have established a new organization. This is called International Test Agency (ITA). The headquarter of ITA is in Lausanne. They will also work closely with us and IOC. Finally, according to the question, I would not rule out that we will observe a significant decline in the coming years. Yes, I would like to note that I will come back to Azerbaijan. Not only because I love your country as I mentioned.

– About 7-8 years ago Baku hosted the International Weightlifting Championship – Baku Grand Prix, but then a break was given. How do you look at its restoration, the initiative to host the World Championship in Azerbaijan? I have a second question. You mentioned the development of weightlifting in Azerbaijan, but there is also Zirve International Sports Club operating in Azerbaijan. How can you assist to internationalise this club?

– 6 years ago this Grand Prix was organized. Yesterday I had a very fruitful meeting with the AZE WF President Jahangir Askerov and he announced intention to hold this competition again. He asked me for an estimate and an organization plan. We will work in this direction and will have the necessary assistance. China is already interested in hosting the World Cup, expressing its desire and intention, and Russia as well. It would be good to organize in the USA, as the USA federation is very fanciful and quite active, and is qualified by its organizational structure. Of course, there are specific criteria for holding the competition, so the special prize fund should be separated and given to the winners, in addition, special regulations should be necessarily on the participation of athletes. Yes, we want to hold the World Cup in Baku. I would like the press to be a little active and help us to broaden it. Regarding the club, Mr. Tofig Heydarov is a President of very strong club. In the coming weeks our meetings are planned. I know, he is a man that is qualified by his enthusiasm in weightlifting. Personally I know him as a well-known athlete as well. You remember, I have already mentioned that Azerbaijan has very good, talented weightlifters. It is a pleasure for us to work with them.

– Recently, doping cases have been revealed in our 4 athletes. One of them, Isa Huseynov was punished for four year. But the next 3 athletes-except Elmar Aliyev, a decision was not disclosed on Huseyn Ismayilov and Anastasiya Ibrahimli. What is the reason?
– It is a purely domestic issue. There are procedural rules, regulations, and legal aspects of the case. All of these processes should be completed and the decision should be made public. Unfortunately, during the Islamic Games coaches from the former USSR were involved to the Arab countries, and they also gave athletes prohibited substances to get high result. The result is obvious. If we go back to the question, I can not exactly say anything. The procedure should be completed. In the doping cases, the athletes and coaches, even if it is massive, even the country itself can be suspended. Please contact an official letter and our lawyers will definitely reply to this question.

– As you know, we, as a federation, were suspended for 1 year. During one year, our athletes should be tested three times. However, our penalty finished on July. We have athletes who have been analyzed once or twice. Will they be allowed to participate in the competitions?
– Anyway, if the suspension time expired, yes, they can take part.

– Will the weightlifting be included to the European Games in Belarus in 2019?
– No. The first European Games were fantastic in Baku. However, unfortunately, the European Federation does not work at a high level. Thus, weightlifting was not included, and will not be in Minsk as well.

– You spoke nice things about the AZE WF, saying that all the criteria were accepted and followed. In return, can we perceive the participation of our girl athlete in Youth Olympic Games as a gesture? And as a continuation of my colleague’s question, of course, we talk about world championships or greater competitions, but we have to take into account that the Azerbaijan Weightlifting Federation has started to work again from zero. Could any of the prestigious events, such as the European championship, be credited to Azerbaijan before the World Cup?

– No problem. The federation has such a right. On October 19, the punishment period of all countries will expire. Yes, you will be free again. Azerbaijan will have an authority in direct participation and organization. Without any problems, even tomorrow, Azerbaijan can take part in international competitions, and if all the works are pursued correctly, it can also organize competitions. Yesterday we discussed it with Jahangir Askerov, Tofig Heydarov and Rizvan Rasulov. I wished Azerbaijan great success, and expressed my satisfaction with all the work done.