This isn’t an article designed to be inflammatory towards other powerlifting organizations. Everything starts from somewhere, and this subject is no exception. In other sports there are sanctioning organizations outside of those which are internationally recognized. But this article isn’t about other sports; its about powerlifting. This topic has been taken up as a passionate cause by many people across the United States and in many circles it’s the proverbial elephant in the room that people ignore. Why is USA Powerlifting the hotly contested sanctioning organization legitimately accepted across all 50 states? The answers can be as simple or as complex as one chooses to make them. In this post I will attempt to make the case that there is only one federation in the United States for those who are serious about powerlifting.
- International Affiliation – USA Powerlifting is the United States affiliated member of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). The IPF is the world’s oldest and largest international powerlifting organization, with over 100 recognized member countries. Organized and founded in 1971, the IPF is the gold standard in international powerlifting. Succinctly, more world class lifters comprising the sports’ most legendary elite have lifted/lift here than any other powerlifting organization. USA Powerlifting is the ONLY recognized United States affiliate member.
- Drug Testing – Before its current iteration, USA Powerlifting was known as the American Drug-Free Powerlifting Association (ADFPA) until 1997 when they renamed themselves USA Powerlifting (hereafter known as the USAPL). In November of 1997, they were admitted into the IPF as the United States member. Simply put, the USAPL was formed as a result of the immediate need for drug testing in the sport of powerlifting in order to create an even playing field for all lifters.
Scholars of the sport contend and agree the USAPL was formed as a means to remediate the problem plaguing the sport at the time. There was pushback from the top of the then current organization and thus the ADFPA (now USAPL) was formed. Drug testing is necessary; it’s needed. If an athlete wishes to use performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) that’s their prerogative, just not in a legitimate internationally recognized drug-free sport. Olympic Weightlifting (from which powerlifting derived) does not have competing organizations for their athletes that turn a blind eye to drug use, the same should be for our sport. No one drug-tests better, to the highest standards, more closely aligned with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) than the USAPL.
- Organization – No organization is perfect. No organization goes without conflict or its share of problems. But it is hard to think of any other organization with people who care more for the sport than ours. The USAPL’s executive level of leadership is full of men and women who give countless hours selflessly for no financial or personal gain solely for the growth of our organization. From the USAPL President down to the leadership at each of the state committees, no one gives more and asks for less than our leadership. Referees, table workers, scorers, expediters all volunteer over a dozen hours of their time to put together meets that are as classy as they are efficiently run. We are a well-oiled machine intent on preserving the purity of this sport we care so deeply for.
- Storied & Unified – Are other federations close-knit and well run? You bet. So is USA Powerlifting. Our organization has a real passion for developing young lifters dedicated to a lifelong career of drug-free powerlifting from high school, into collegiates, the open team, and later on in life as masters lifters. The emphasis of developing the lifters by surrounding them with leaders who have been instrumental in the sport’s development over the last 50 years is made clear at every National Championship the USAPL puts on. Our lifters support one another; fierce competitors shake hands and share a beer after a competition. It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood closer knit than many families. In a recent international meet, a lifter from another country was severely injured during his 2nd deadlift and came back to miraculously pull for the win against an American lifter. He was immediately rushed back stage where it was revealed that he was in immediate need for an ambulance. No one backstage was bilingual and chaos ensued trying to charade signals for “medical attention”. As the frustration level reached a dangerous high, the American lifter who had just been beaten walked into the area and translated for both the meet director and the injured lifter who had just defeated him, a true class act.
- Standards of Performance – Our rules are enforced, there are no exceptions. Every lifter in USA Powerlifting is held to the same strict standards at every competition. From Alaska to California to Texas to Wisconsin to Florida to Massachusetts. In USA Powerlifting, you have to squat deep, fully pause your benches, and perform hitch-free deadlifts. It’s a performance standard of excellence that no other organization can claim. A 900 pound squat in USA Powerlifting is a legitimate lift. Our referees are held to high standards and receive feedback to reinforce the standards set forth by the technical committee and the IPF. Conclusively, powerlifting in USA Powerlifting is as real as it gets, everything else is just that.
There is one federation which represents the purist platform of powerlifting. Consistent rules, the strictest drug-testing standards, and a terrific atmosphere provide the lifter with the best and complete competition experience.