IOC: Russians Can Compete in Rio, But Ruling Keeps Out Prominent Weightlifters

In the long awaited follow-up to last week’s McLaren Report, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today that due to the urgency of the matter, Russian athletes will be allowed to compete subject to final approval of their International Federation. For weightlifters, the international federation is the IWF.

In last week’s report, Richard McLaren, a Canadian attorney retained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate allegations of drug use and cover up by the Russian Olympic Committee, published a 97-page report covering significant state-sponsored doping in the Russian Federation.

As per the report, the IOC met with Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov, who promised to cooperate with international officials and stated the ROC has planned a complete restructuring of the anti-doping system in Russia.

The IOC did set a standard for Russian athletes who will be allowed to compete, and it seems there will be a big impact on the women’s +75kg category in weightlifting (more below).

Several pieces of criteria that are needed to be eligible for the Olympic Games in two weeks:

  1. The athlete needs to have met full compliance with their IF’s codes of conduct.
  2. ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping (even if the athlete has already served their sanction or suspension).
  3. The first two conditions need to be verified by an agent of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
  4. Entry of any Russian athlete ultimately accepted by the IOC will be subject to an additional out-of-competition testing program with their International Federation and WADA. Being unavailable for testing will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the accreditation by the IOC.

Last month, the Russian Weightlifting Federation received a suspension from the IWF that would keep Russian lifters out of international competition for one year starting some time after the Rio Games. However, this will not go into affect until after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The weightlifting start list for the Olympic Games that was published this week did include 5 men and 3 women from the Russian Federation:

  • Tima Turieva (63KG)
  • Anastasia Romanova (69KG)
  • Tatiana Kashirina (75+KG)
  • Oleg Chen (69KG)
  • Artem Okulov (85KG)
  • Adam Maligov (94KG)
  • David Bedzhanyan (105KG)
  • Ruslan Albegov (105+KG)

Based on the IOC announcement today, it would appear Tatiana Kashirina would be ineligible for the Rio Olympic Games, as she previously served a two year suspension from August 2008 until August 2010 which kept her out of the Beijing Olympic Games. Kashirina is the reigning World Champion and won silver at the 2012 London Games. 

Another lifter in this same predicament would be Anastasia Romanova in the 69KG category. Romanova placed 3rd at the 2015 World Championships in Houston and likely would have been a medal favorite going into the Rio Olympic Games.

If the announcement requirements are upheld, it would be a huge blow to the Gold Medal aspirations of Russian Weightlifting. At the same time, it could alter the women’s superheavyweight landscape and make American Sarah Robles a significant favorite to win America’s first medal in Olympic Weightlifting since Tara Nott (gold, 48kg) and Cheryl Haworth (bronze, +75kg) finished on the podium in 2000.

Featured Image: Tatiana Kashirina Instagram (@tani240191)

This article has been updated to reflect Anastasia Romanova’s previous doping suspension. The article original stated Tatiana Kashirina was the only Russian lifter on the start list who had previously received a suspension.