IWF “Had No Other Choice” Than to Give Ilya Ilyin a 2-Year Suspension

The International Weightlifting Federation has announced that Ilya Ilyin will receive the “maximum allowed” sanction under the World Anti-Doping Code: a two-year suspension, which will end in June this year.

In mid-2016, the samples of a slew of weightlifters who competed at the London and Beijing Olympics were retested for banned substances, resulting in several suspensions, among them Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin. What was perhaps unusual about Ilyin’s case was that he tested positive for banned substances in samples from the 2008 Olympics and the 2012 Olympics. He originally won gold medals as a -94kg athlete at both Olympic games, but was stripped of them in September 2016.

In mid-January it was reported that Ilyin would be eligible to compete on June 10, 2018, when his suspension was to formally end. But while he tested positive for banned substances at both the Beijing and the London Olympics, the two failed drug tests will be considered a single, first-time offense. This is because a second offense can only occur after an athlete has received notice of his or her first failed test, and Ilyin’s notice for both Olympic games came at the same time.

That means that Ilyin’s suspension will wind up lasting two years, which is the maximum amount of time an athlete can receive for a first-time offense.

[Ilyin discusses his suspension in detail in a recent issue of Kazakhstan’s Men’s Health — read his thoughts here.]

The IWF said in a statement that they “had no other choice but to consider the two violations as one according to the applicable rules.” And it sounds like they’d rather the rules be changed.

The IWF is keen to impose sanctions which correspond to the damage brought to its sport, and is reaching out to WADA and the IOC to discuss possibilities for the future to consider relevant rules to be changed and deal with the result of reanalysis programs similar to those of Beijing and London in a different manner.

While Ilyin’s suspension ends in June, Kazakhstan’s Weightlifting Federation — along with the national weightlifting bodies of China, Russia, and six other nations — received a one-year ban from international competition last September because of their athletes’ high number of anti-doping violations. As such, Ilyin won’t be able to lift in international competition until October this year.

Featured image via @ilyailyin_4ever on Instagram.