Iranian Weightlifters Protest After IWF Reduces Spots for Tokyo Olympics

Last week, Reuters broke a huge sports story: countries that had committed multiple doping violations between 2008 and 2020 would lose spots for weightlifters at the Tokyo Olympics.

The new Anti-Doping Policy, later confirmed by the IWF, would limit countries with twenty or more violations during that time period to just two athletes (one male and one female), whereas countries with between ten and nineteen violations would have their spots reduced to four athletes. Everyone else can send up to eight athletes depending on qualification.

[Read our full article on last week’s doping crackdown here.]

Five countries fell into the category that received the severest penalties: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus. Nine other countries receive the lesser penalty: Albania, Bulgaria, India, Iran, Moldova, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Thailand may also join this list once an outstanding case is closed.

This week, Iran fired back. In an interview with Inside the Games, Iranian Weightlifting Federation President Ali Moradi called the decision “unfair,” pointing out that Iran hadn’t had any doping violations for four years.

We don’t accept this unfair decision and I will protest in this matter (…)

Our famous athletes like Kianoush Rostami, Sohrab Moradi, Behdad Salimi and Saeid Alihosseini have always been tested in and out of competition and remain clean at the highest level. (…)

What can we do with these two quotas? For example, can we not be represented in the super heavyweights, in which we have won so often?

Moradi says that he fully supports a drug-free sport but that he will ask the IWF to “re-examine the rules.”

The men’s national team coach for Belarus, meanwhile, also told Inside the Games that, “if we are restricted to a quota of two, it will be a disaster.”

[Read more: Russia reportedly helped Armenian weightlifters dope in Beijing and London.]

IWF Director General Attila Adamfi added,

Obviously not everyone is happy but everybody understands that the sport needs to be creative and needs to be tough on this issue to demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee and to the broader public that the (IWF) is absolutely determined to clear the sport [of doping].

Indeed, not everyone is happy, but this latest update to the IWF’s Anti-Doping Policy is certainly demonstrating that commitment to a cleaner sport.

Featured image via @sohrab.moradiii on Instagram.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.