Weightlifting chief warns dopers as sport fights for Olympic future

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Weighlifting’s governing body admits the sport is “under pressure” to keep its place in the Olympic Games.

And International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) director general Attila Adamfi has warned dopers that they will be caught.

IOC president Thomas Bach threatened weightlifting with expulsion after numerous positive retests from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Unless its doping record improves, Tokyo 2020 could see the last Olympic weightlifting competition.

Five countries have been restricted to just two lifters in Tokyo for doping trangressions.

Weightlifting’s chequered history

Weightlifting accounted for 49 out of the 109 positive retests from Beijing and London.

Three Chinese lifters were stripped of golds obtained on home soil in 2008.

Four Kazakh gold medallists from 2012, including defending champion Ilya Ilyin, were disqualified after their stored samples tested positive.

Four Russian silver medallists from 2012 were also excluded for doping offences.

The IWF enforced its policy that countries with a total of three or more adverse findings from the Beijing and London retests would serve a one-year ban from international competition.

As well as China, Kazakhstan and Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, and Ukraine were also barred.

These suspensions ends in late October.

Five of those nations – Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus – have been sanctioned further for reaching 20 doping violations since 2008.

They will be allowed just two competitors – one male and one female – at Tokyo 2020.

“We will catch you”

The IOC has said weightlifting will be removed from the Games if it does not improve its record on doping.

And Adamfi, speaking in the Japanese capital after meeting Games organisers, knows this is very much the sport’s last chance.

“It is not a secret; we are under pressure, obviously. The IOC Executive Board made a decision that whilst weightlifting is confirmed on the program for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Paris 2024 is ‘under probation’.

“We will do our best to ensure a level playing field and we will also provide a message, not exactly with the qualification system, but in general with our very tough anti-doping activity that, ‘Don’t even try, because we will catch you.’

“What the IOC did with the re-analyses – and long-term storage of samples for re-analyses – gives an even more tougher message that even if today you think you can do something and you can take doping and you can escape, it doesn’t mean that you cannot be positive after two years or five years or 10 years.”

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