The news isn’t a big surprise to many fans of international weightlifting, but it looks like it’s become official: Four Russian weightlifters — including (now former) 2015 World Weightlifting Champion and World Record holder Aleksey Lovchev (also spelled “Aleksei” in some English outlets) — have received bans for positive doping tests.
Lovchev shocked the world in Houston at the 2015 WWC, snatching 211kg and clean & jerking 264kg for new superheavyweight records in the clean & jerk and total. But in late December, the IWF reported his B test sample had tested positive for a banned substance, and they issued a provisional suspension.
While Lovchev and the Russian Weightlifting Federation have appealed the suspension and will likely continue to appeal the ban, the weightlifter is now officially banned for four years for the use of ipamorelin. Ipamorelin is a peptide that increases growth hormone levels.
Lovchev’s world title will revert to silver medalist Lasha Talakhadze of the Republic of Georgia. At just 22 years old, Talakhadze is poised to a solid performance at the Rio Olympics; at the 2016 European Weightlifting Championships, he set a new European snatch record at 212 kg while clean & jerking 251 kg.
His record clean & jerk and total records — while still listed on the IWF site as of this writing — will likely, officially revert back to Iran’s Hossein Rezazadeh in the coming weeks. (Embedded below, original photo from All Things Gym.)
Also receiving four-year bans are Russian lifters Aleksei Kosov and Olga Afanasyeva.
Former European Champion Olga Zubova — who we recently saw jerking 180 kilograms at a bodyweight of around 75kg — received an eight year ban after testing positive for methenolone (like Lovchev, she had previously received a provisional suspension). This is Zubova’s second positive test and ban, hence the longer sentence.
The news of the Russian bans come on the same day that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced it had retested athlete samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Games, with the intent to catch offenders who may be likely to compete again in Rio. Any positive tests from those Games will result in an automatic ban from Rio.
While they haven’t announced names just yet, a release on their site says up to 31 athletes across six different sports could be affected, so we may see more bans announced that affect repeat Olympians in weightlifting.
Featured image: @lovchev_aleksey on Instagram