Ed Coan Seminars: My Thoughts

The IPF recently released this post via their website. The TL;DR is the seminars being held by Ed Coan are off limits to IPF lifters, as Mr Coan is a life-time banned athlete, and WADA rules prohibit “[working] or [associating] with individuals who are serving a period of ineligibility due to an anti-doping rule violation.” This seems to have been met with a lot of criticism from the Internet’s lifting community, and honestly I don’t understand why.


For those of you who don’t know who Ed Coan is, or why he is a big deal, he’s widely considered to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) of powerlifting – the equivalent of Michael Jordan to basketball or Jonah Lomu to rugby. He has an “equipped” (inverted commas because equipped in the 90s was very different to now) squat of about 460 kg, a bench of 265 kg and an effectively raw deadlift of 410 kg, all at around 100 kg bodyweight. Whether or not he is the GOAT is not a question I am equipped to answer right now, but he is certainly one of the greats. Unfortunately, Mr Coan also failed three drug tests; in 1985, 1989, and finally in 1996. The third failure resulted in a life-time ban from the IPF.

Ed Coan mostly spends his time these days helping new lifters and doing his best to encourage growth in the sport. By all reports, he is one of the nicest guys you could meet.

My Two Cents

I am so fucking confused by why people are up in arms about this.

The Non-IPF Lifters

There are some non-IPF lifters who are using this as an opportunity to deride the IPF. In accordance with Godwin’s Law, Nazi comparisons abound, along with poorly thought out arguments and irrelevant opinions. To those non-IPF lifters who are weighing in here, this is not your business. You do not compete within the IPF, their rules do not apply to you. I’m not going to otherwise address these opinions, as they are not relevant.

The IPF Lifters

Every single person registered to an IPF affiliate has signed a WADA (or local affiliate, in my case Drug Free Sport New Zealand) form agreeing to a set of rules and conditions of competing. Among the clauses in that document is a section saying words to the effect of “I will not associate, either in sport or in my professional life, with any athlete or support person who is completing a ban for doping violations.” (Full version not written out because the relevant section is really long.) Every single competitor in the IPF has signed this document, therefore you cannot be surprised when these rules are enforced. On the flip side, if this rule was not enforced, just as many people would be weighing in about inconsistent application of rules. Nobody made you join the IPF, so there is little argument to be had about if this is fair or not. This is the price we way for legitimacy.

I think this is a dumb fucking rule. I would love to go to an Ed Coan seminar, I feel like there is a lot I could learn (maybe I would even get stronger by osmosis). What I want, or what anyone else wants for that matter, does not have the slightest bit of influence here. The IPF wants become an Olympic sport, and to do so means following the rules laid out by WADA. I think being an Olympic sport would be one of the best things for the growth of powerlifting (I also think powerlifting fits well into the IOC Values and the Olympic Charter). As such, we need to play by the rules. No cherry-picking of rules, no playing favorites, but strict adherence to the rules.

To quote a friend, “If this was any other sport, there wouldn’t even be an argument,” and he’s totally right.

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