On Tuesday, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and the International Testing Agency (ITA) opened up an anti-doping rule violation investigation involving five Russian weightlifters. The IWF and ITA have been working closely together in recent months, and the ITA has taken on the responsibility to manage the IWF’s anti-doping program.
This particular case stems from previous investigations into the Russian doping scheme by Professor Richard McLaren and WADA Intelligence & Investigations departments (WADA & I&I). The President of the IWF, Tamas Ajan, commented on the recent findings, which has resulted in provisionally suspending these five athletes, in a press release:
“The IWF regrets these additional cases of doping in our sport from some years ago. We note without any satisfaction that weightlifting was far from the only sport to have been affected by the extensive and historical Russian doping revealed by whistleblowers, the media and WADA. We can be satisfied, however, that the IWF has shown once again our determination to protect clean sport and promote clean athletes. We have not shown any hesitation in taking the right decisions.”
In a public disclosure, the five athletes that have had their cases opened for (a) violation or violation(s) of Article 2.2 of the IWF Anti-Doping Policy are:
- David Bedzhanyan (105kg)
- Oleg Chen (69kg)
- Ruslan Albegov (105kg)
- Egor Klimonov (94kg)
- Tima Turieva (63kg)
Several of these names were members of the Russian weightlifting team that was barred from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Albegov, a 105kg athlete won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olmpic Games, and is also a two-time world champion. Bedzhanyan and Chen have each medaled three times at world championships.
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“In recent years, the IWF has implemented a comprehensive array of innovative anti-doping measures, aimed at ensuring a culture of clean weightlifting. These include the establishment of an independent Clean Sport Commission, suspensions of members with a strong prevalence of historical doping, extensive education and rehabilitation programmes, new bodyweight categories and an Olympic Qualification System that rewards countries with a record of clean athletes,” Ajan said in the press release.
In addition to the new Olympic qualification system, which requires athletes to compete six times during an 18-month qualification period, the IWF has also announced a change in how spots will work after multiple anti-doping violations surfaced from 2008-2020. Russia is one of the countries that will have just 1 Olympic spot given to them, because they have 20+ anti-doping violations.
Currently the IWF and ITA will work together on follow-up investigations which could also bring to light additional cases.
Featured image from @egor_klimteam Instagram page.