‘Our past is being punished’: Russia, China banned from weightlifting for 1 year
Russia leads the list of seven post-Soviet states suspended from weightlifting competitions for up to 12 months alongside China and Turkey. The step was taken by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) following the retesting of samples from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
“At the IWF we have made it clear that the incidence of doping in some areas is totally unacceptable and that our Members have a responsibility to ensure clean sport in their countries,” IWF President Tamas Ajan said in a statement published on the federation’s website.
A three-person panel unanimously approved the decision, which will see athletes from nine states unable to compete at the world championships in Anaheim, starting in November, either under national or neutral flags.
The banned nations, which also include Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, may be allowed to shorten their suspensions, providing the national federations agree to extra-strict compliance rules.
Between three and ten athletes from each of the nations failed a retest of preserved samples from the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the London Games in 2012, for a total of 49, including 30 who medaled in various weight categories and disciplines.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) sanctioned the suspension after a series of appeals from individuals and federations failed in the past several months.
Unlike the other countries, Russia, which had the highest number of athletes outed – 10, alongside Kazakhstan – is being further punished for historic doping violations. Last year, it was suspended from the Olympics in Rio, alongside Bulgaria, which escaped censure this time.
Maksim Agapitov, head of the Russian Weightlifting Federation who was elected late last year, said that the current team “is not responsible for the mistakes of past management, but we are having to deal with them.”
"We have done a lot and our efforts have been highly praised," he told the Tass news agency in Moscow. "Our past is being punished – not us. We are rolling with the punches and creating the future."
In July, the International Olympic Committee said weightlifting could be excluded from the Paris 2024 games – the first time since 1912 – unless the IWF institute serious reforms to combat doping.