Mohamed Jaloud, right, is the new IWF President ©YouTube/IWF

There were angry scenes at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) elections in Tirana today before calm was restored and Mohamed Jaloud was declared the new President of the sport's governing body.

Jaloud's close friend and ally of many years, Yousef Al-Mana from Qatar, protested after the votes had been cast that Jaloud had withdrawn.

Proceedings were halted in the Albanian capital for an emergency meeting while the Electoral Commission deliberated on the protest.

When the decision went in favour of Jaloud, Al-Mana himself withdrew and Jaloud was declared the winner without a count.

One of Jaloud’s "old guard" allies on the IWF Board, Jose Quinones from Peru, was elected general secretary, a decision that will not go down well with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC has repeatedly criticised the IWF’s inept governance over the past two years and has taken weightlifting off the programme for Los Angeles 2028. 

Thomas Bach, the IOC President, had complained about the number of IWF Board members among the election candidates, and the IOC originally withdrew Quinones’ accreditation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year, although it was later restored.

Quinones was banned for five years - now expired - by a Peruvian administrative sport court for alleged financial mismanagement but he said in an interview last year that the court had not followed due process and said he was appealing against the sanction.

This week the IOC punished another governing body for poor governance when it ruled that the International Boxing Association (IBA) would not be allowed to organise the competition, including qualifying, for Paris 2024. 

Delegates argued bitterly at the IWF Congress before a new President was chosen ©YouTube/IWF
Delegates argued bitterly at the IWF Congress before a new President was chosen ©YouTube/IWF

Before his victory, Jaloud had told delegates: "The IOC and the world is watching.

"We need unity - we must work together to keep weightlifting in the Olympic programme."

The election of Ursula Papandrea, of the United States, as first vice-president - number two to Jaloud - puts a reformer in a position of some influence.

Papandrea was Interim President of the IWF for six months in 2020 when she tried to instigate serious reforms.

Although she resigned, she had built a strong relationship with the IOC in that time, and has maintained it since.

The four other vice-presidents include two Board members who sat alongside Jaloud and Quinones - Pyrros Dimas of Greece and Petr Krol of the Czech Republic - plus Doris Travieso of Venezuela and the former IWF director general Attila Adamfi.

Adamfi has a strong track record in sports management and also has a good relationship with IOC officials. 

Previous Board members from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ecuador and India lost their seats.

The 10 other Board members included one who was approved by vote despite being over the age limit of 70, Sam Coffa of Australia.

Ursula Papandrea, a former IWF Interim President, was today elected as first vice-president ©IWF
Ursula Papandrea, a former IWF Interim President, was today elected as first vice-president ©IWF

Hirome Miyaki of Japan, who is already vice-chair of the Athletes Commission, was also elected to the Board, which features 10 newcomers.

The other eight Board members are Florian Sperl of Germany, Matthew Curtain of Britain, Tom Liaw of Singapore, Mohammed Alharbi of Saudi Arabia, Fathi Masmoudi of Tunisia, Yassiny Esquivel of Costa Rica, Gardencia Du Plooy of South Africa and Wen Hsin (Meco) Chang of Taiwan.

Al-Mana is President of the Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF) and Jaloud is general secretary, a role he also held - until today - at the IWF.

When Al-Mana made his protest Olivier Ducrey, the electoral manager, told delegates that proceedings would be halted while it was considered.

Elez Gjoza, President of the Albanian Weightlifting Federation, took the microphone and began to shout about "democracy" while Ducrey told him to calm down.

Tempers were also raised among African delegates and Ducrey called for calm, telling delegates: "Stay in your seats."

Nine of the 11 Presidential candidates had already withdrawn before voting started at the Special and Electoral Congress, which is crucial to weightlifting’s future as an Olympic sport.

Jaloud, who was a weightlifter for 13 years, is the first Asian President in the IWF's history.

He is from Iraq and also holds citizenship in Kazakhstan, where his wife is from.

Jaloud stood in the elections as an individual rather than as a representative of a nation, having gained the required level of support to do so from member federations.