Russia Withdraws Its Appeal of One-Year Doping Ban

After a meeting between the new president of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (Maksim Agapitov) and the head of the International Weightlifting Federation (Dr. Tamas Ajan) in Budapest on Wednesday night, Russia has formally withdrawn their appeal of their one-year doping ban. The appeal was scheduled to take place in the Court of Arbitration (CAS) the next day, January 26.

Agapitov, a 1997 World Championship 91kg gold medalist (who personally served a two year doping ban between 1994 and 1996) promised instead to help clean up the sport. “Our main objective is to restore order and discipline,” he said.

Last July, Russia was handed a one-year ban from the IWF that included a ban on any competition in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The ban also included Belarus and Kazakhstan.

It was handed down after the IWF instated a rule that any country with three or more positive retests from the previous two Olympic games would be banned from international competition for a year. In Russia’s case, retests showed that nine weightlifters, including eight who won medals, tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized his country’s officials for failing to take anti-doping efforts seriously, and then-head of the RWF Sergey Syrtsov resigned amidst the controversy.

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Russia swiftly filed an initial appeal with the CAS, which was quickly rejected. In the interim, Russia has been holding its own weightlifting competitions, including the Geraklion contest that was held in the suburbs of Moscow last July, during which several athletes recorded lifts that would have medalled in the Olympics.

At the time of writing, the CAS is still set to hear Belarus and Kazakhstan’s appeals this week. Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, Moldova, Turkey, and Ukraine may also face bans once the International Olympic Committee has confirmed all of their outstanding cases.

Featured image via @aukhadov on Instagram.