IWF Dispels Rumors Regarding Olympic Quota for the USA Men's Weightlifting Team

Responding to IronMind®'s request for clarification of the Olympic quota for the USA men's weightlifting team, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) summarized the facts, making it is apparent that an unfortunate misunderstanding is at the root of the controversy concerning how many American men will be on the start list for weightlifting in Beijing.

The first point, by now well established after many exchanges between the principals, is that based on "the FINAL Combined 2006 & 2007 World Championships qualification team Ranking (after the closing of the anti-doping control procedures), the USA did not earn any qualification quota in MEN for the 2008 Beijing Games," IWF officials told IronMind® today. This was a bitter pill for the USA men's weightlifting team to swallow since "the PRELIMINARY Ranking issued on the last day of the 2007 WWC," led the team to think it had earned three slots. Unfortunately, doping positives from other countries changed the team rankings, and the net result was that the USA men's team ended up with a quota of zero.

"This happened without the USA having done anything wrong," the IWF noted, in complete agreement with USAW advocates, but the fact remains that as far as the final rankings go, "This was the case."

Further, the IWF is emphatic that it never misled the USAW regarding these rankings and the resulting quota: "The USA Weightlifting Federation/USOC NEVER received any official communication from the IWF or from its President that it has 3 men qualified for Beijing. On the contrary, when the Ranking became final, it was published on the IWF website," where the official quota for the US men's team, based on its position, was nil.

Seeking to remedy this situation, USA Weightlifting sent a men's team to the Pan Ams, where it performed extremely well and its efforts were rewarded, as explained by the IWF: "The USA used the Continental Qualification opportunity in 2008 where it qualified 2 men for Beijing. Official notification about this was duly sent."

At some point subsequently, perhaps fueled by optimism or even a residual sense that it was morally entitled to three slots, a story circulated that the USA men's team had been given an additional position, bringing it back up the full three the team initially thought it had. This created an immediate sense of happiness and relief in the USA Weightlifting community, but it wasn't to last long, because shortly after this story had been widely circulated, another announcement followed, stating that this third slot had evaporated - at this point, the rumors and threats began to fly.

The matter is really very simple, though, because the IWF told IronMind®, "The [third] place has never been granted, so it could never be taken back . . . Nobody from the IWF - including the President - has ever said or written to the USA 'granting' this slot."

It is unfortunate that rumor and misunderstanding have confused matters about the Olympic quota for the USA Weightlifting men's team, but with countries still scrambling to gain even one slot and with the IWF responsible for the global good of the sport, narrow views of quotas, while understandable, will have to give way to a broader perspective.

Remaining upbeat throughout this process, USA Weightlifting is showing its commitment to the the third man on its depth chart - Casey Burgener - by bringing him to Beijing, ready to suit up just in case an extra opening arises from lifters either not showing up or by failing the preliminary drug tests required by the IWF as part of its continuing commitment to a clean sport.

With all this adrenaline flowing, if Casey Burgener lifts in Beijing after all, more than one person is predicting a personal best performance from the top American super heavyweight, which would be the storybook ending to this saga.

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