Report: Azerbaijani Weightlifters, Including World Champion Boyanka Kostova, Test Positive

Update: Along with Ilya Ilyin and other Olympic Champions from the London Olympics, Boyanka Kostova has been provisionally suspended from competition by the IWF. Kostova finishe 5th in London in the 58kg weight class.

Read about the IWF’s official announcement on London retests and subsequent suspensions here.

Armenian news agency Armenpress — Armenia’s oldest state-run news agency — is reporting that six weightlifters from the nation of Azerbaijan have been disqualified for doping and will be banned from participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The report has yet to be verified by the International Weightlifting Federation, so for right now, it’s unconfirmed. While word of the positive Azerbaijiani tests isn’t new by any means, one named in the article is: 58kg World Champion, European Champion, and World Record Holder Boyanka Kostova.

However, the sport’s governing bodies have yet to confirm a positive result for Kostova, and no specific official has been cited as the story’s source. 

Six Azerbaijani lifters — Elkhan Aligulizada, Silviya Angelova, Dadash Dadashbayli, Firidun Guliyev, Valentin Hristov, and Intigam Zairov — are currently sanctioned by the International Weightlifting Federation for doping violations. All six sanctions were handed down in the months after the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, Texas, and the news brought considerable attention to Azerbaijan’s weightlifting program; the Azerbaijani federation was also sanctioned in 2014 based off multiple positive tests from the 2013 competition season.

What’s new is Kostova’s connection to the positive tests — though the validity of Armenpress’ report has yet to be confirmed by Azerbaijan’s weightlifting federation or the IWF, and until the IWF confirms, this could just be a misunderstanding from Armenian press. At just 23, Kostova is one of the world’s top weightlifters. Though Azerbaijan’s women didn’t earn an Olympic spot through normal qualification means, it was speculated the IWF could award her a spot in Rio under special consideration, particularly because she’s the reigning World Champion and Total record holder in her weight class.

The IWF has yet to confirm a sanction or positive doping result for Boyanka Kostova, and as of now, it’s unclear even which competition could be associated with the positive test. (Kostova recently competed in — and easily won — the 2016 European Weightlifting Championship.)

Video of Kostova’s World Record-breaking performance in Houston is embedded below.