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International Powerlifting Federation ejects USA Powerlifting over testing policies

IPF member nations dropped USAPL prior to world championships, after trans-inclusion disagreement.

Para Powerlifting World Cup Bogotá 2021: Day 3
The international powerlifting world has rejected the policies of USA Powerlifting that in part are aimed at preventing trans athletes from competing.
Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images

USA Powerlifting, already in the crosshairs of an anti-discrimination lawsuit and serving a 12-month suspension by the International Powerlifting Federation, was expelled from the world governing body during a session of the IPF Congress in Norway on Sunday.

The IPF’s action came one day the before the organization’s World Open Championship competition would start. Among 27 nations involved in the vote on the decision, 23 voted for expulsion with 4 abstentions.

According to a press release from the IPF, the reason for the removal was clear: “USAPL’s non compliance with the WADA Code and ongoing violations of the Code even after their suspension from the IPF.”

The decision came after the USAPL defended to the IPF Congress that their in-house policies test athletes at a higher rates and made a proposal to follow what was called the “Olympic model” for testing. Elite-level athletes would be testing by the existing WADA protocols while local-level athletes would be subject to the USAPL system.

In addition to its problems with the sport’s world governing body, USAPL also faces an anti-discrimination suit filed by Minnesota powerlifter JayCee Cooper
JayCee Cooper

The dismissal is the latest controversy for USA Powerlifting. The governing body has been under scrutiny by many observers because of compliance fight with the IPF and the continuing clashes between the organization and those seeking greater inclusion in the sport.

At the center of those clashes is the two-year fight with transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper. She is suing USAPL in a court in her native Minnesota citing violations of the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

One of the sticking-point issues between the IPF and the USAPL also crosses into issues of inclusion. The USAPL regulations do not allow for certain therapeutic use exemptions allowed by WADA, such as testosterone. Critics, such as the Pull For Pride organization, contend that USAPL’s non-compliance with recognized IOC and WADA international standards bolsters the formal ban on transgender participation passed in May 2019.

The net outcome is as the IPF championships continues, the United States stands without a recognized IPF-member governing body. USA Powerlifting intends to continue in hopes of becoming a competitor to the IPF.

In their press release, the USAPL states:

“We are excited for our future now that we have been released from the rules and restrictions of the IPF.... With our removal from the IPF, we now have the greatest opportunity in our history to transform the sport of powerlifting for both U.S. lifters and international lifters who want to compete with us.”