Russian officials have been cleared to stand in upcoming week's International Weightlifting Federation elections ©Getty Images

The number of candidates for the Presidency of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has grown by one after a ruling in favour of Russia by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Maxim Agapitov, a current member of the IWF Board who had been deemed ineligible in a vetting process, can now stand for the post of President and other roles - general secretary, vice-president and Board member - in the elections in Tirana, Albania this weekend.

While the CAS ruling - which stated that the eligibility panel which ruled on candidates had acted beyond its jurisdiction - might look like defeat for the IWF, it is good news for the governing body.

Agapitov has long contended that Russia is repeatedly punished for the same historic doping offences and had obtained a ruling from a Swiss court, outside the realm of sport, supporting his argument.

Had CAS thrown out the appeal by the Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF), the Electoral Congress due to start on Saturday could have been halted by an injunction.

That would have caused even more delay to elections that are nearly two  years overdue, and would have gone down very badly with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC wants a "change of culture" at the IWF and has taken weightlifting off the Olympic Games programme for Los Angeles 2028.

Agapitov said he was openly critical of the reign of Tamás Aján, and had contributed significantly to the McLaren Report that led to Aján's downfall.

The Hungarian, who was in control at the IWF for 44 years, was banned for life from the sport last week.

Agapitov was responsible for successfully changing the culture of weightlifting in his homeland, he said, highlighting the fact that only one Russian had tested positive for doping at international level in the past seven years. 

"The RWF is the best example for all federations around the world at international activity, modifications, fair play, fighting against of doping, development and popularisation," he told insidethegames.

Maxim Agapitov has claimed the Russian Weightlifting Federation is the
Maxim Agapitov has claimed the Russian Weightlifting Federation is the "best example" in the sport ©Maxim Agapitov

He claimed that, among nations with no doping cases, Russia had the best results of 2021 for all ages at the European and World Championships.

"Repeated attempts to discredit the new Russian Federation have failed," Agapitov said.

"Who stood up to lies, deceit, intimidation, manipulation and pressure? 

"Who defended clean sport, clean athletes and the truth? 

"Who hasn't been afraid to speak the truth, even in the minority?"

All candidates from Russia had been ruled ineligible because it fell foul of a rule concerning nations which had had six or more doping violations since July 2016.

While dozens of Russians had been suspended in that period, they were almost all for violations committed between seven and 11 years ago.

Russia had already been barred from Rio 2016, banned for a year in 2017, and lost all but two of its quota places for Tokyo because of historic offences.

The CAS upheld the Russian appeals, clearing Maxim Agapitov to stand for the IWF Presidency ©Getty Images
The CAS upheld the Russian appeals, clearing Maxim Agapitov to stand for the IWF Presidency ©Getty Images

Since Agapitov took over as President of the RWF in 2016, he has worked hard to change the culture in Russian weightlifting and doping violations have been very scarce.

A CAS statement explained: "The  panel in charge of the matters found that the IWF Eligibility Determination Panel (EDP) did not have jurisdiction to prevent the RWF from nominating candidates.

"Indeed, such decision is of a disciplinary nature and, as provided by Article 13 of the IWF Constitution, it wàs not for the EDP to rule on the suspension of the RWF .... but only to determine the eligibility of the candidates in accordance with the IWF Constitution."

Two other Russians, Aleksandr Kishkin and Dmitry Chernogorov, have been cleared as candidates for the technical committee and coaching and research committee, respectively.

Chernogorov is also standing for the education commission.

The IWF has suspended Russia and Belarus from competing in international weightlifting because of the war in Ukraine but the ban does not cover administrative officials.