Ilya Ilyin Eligible to Compete in 2018

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) updated their Sanctioned Athlete list on Friday, January 12th, and several athletes who failed reanalysis drug testing from the London and/or Beijing Olympic Games has been given end dates to their formal suspension time periods. The most noticeable name on the list is Ilya Ilyin, and the former Beijing and London Olympic Games Champion is eligible to compete on June 10, 2018, when his suspension is formally ended.

According to an Inside the Games article, Ilyin’s two failed drug tests will be considered a single first time offense by the IWF for purposes of his suspension. This is because, in the rules of the IWF, a second offense can only occur after an athlete has received notice of a first anti-doping violation. In the case of the 29 year old from Kazakhstan, he never received a first notification from the IWF or his national federation of his failed reanalysis drug test from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing before he failed his reanalysis from the 2012 Olympic Games. Hence his two failed tests are essentially grouped together as his first anti-doping offense.

In November 2017, Ilyin discussed a potential comeback to the sport in a highly read interview with Men’s Health Kazakhstan. When asked if he wanted to compete again, he answered, “I’m 29 years old – the height of my sporting career. If I leave now, it would be upsetting.”

With an end date to Ilyin’s suspension now in sight, any hurdles that remain lie in the hands of Kazakhstan’s Weightlifting Federation, who remain one of nine IWF member federations currently banned from competition due to multiple reanalysis testing offenses. The nine national federations are eligible to be reinstated in October of this year, one year after the ban was upheld by the IWF — on the condition they show sufficient improvement in the area of clean sport. If Kazakhstan is reinstated, Ilyin’s 2018 International debut most likely would be at the 2018 World Championships in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, that is scheduled to take place in November.

Ilyin is still the current World Record holder in the 105KG category for the clean & jerk (246KG) and Total (437KG), which he achieved in December 2015 at the IWF Grand Prix Event in Grozny, Russia. His potential return to the international stage could set up a highly anticipated competition with defending Olympic Champion Ruslan Nurudinov of Uzbekistan. Without Ilyin’s presence at the Rio Olympic Games, Nurudinov easily lifted 237KG in the clean & jerk to set a new Olympic record. At the 2014 World Championships, Ilyin, Nurudinov, and David Bedzhanyan of Russia combined to set three new world records in the clean & jerk, with Ilyin winning the gold medal.

Other noticeable names that now appear on the IWF sanctioned athlete list include World Record holder and 2015 World Champion Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan. She received a two year suspension that will also end on June 10th of this year after a failed re-analysis at the London Olympic Games. Former 2012 Olympic Champions Maiya Maneza (63KG) and Zulfiya Chinshanlo (53KG), both also of Kazakhstan, received two year suspensions that also end on June 10th after their failed reanalysis. Their countrywoman Svetlana Podobedova (75KG), also a former 2012 Olympic Champion, received an eight year ban from the sport after reanalysis provided her second career anti-doping violation; she previously tested positive in 2008 while competing for the Russian Federation.   

Featured image: @ilyailyin_4ever on Instagram