Weightlifters From Thailand and Malaysia Banned From 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

Sanctions were issued following an investigation of the charges made by the German documentary.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) shared a press release on Friday, April 4th citing sanctions issued to the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association (TAWA) and the Malaysian Weightlifting Federation (MWF). The sanctions were imposed by the Independent Member Federation Sanctions Panel (IMFSP) due to violations of the IWF Anti-Doping Policy, and perhaps most notably, neither country’s weightlifters will be allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

IWF Logo

The following are the sanctions imposed by the IMFSP in accordance Article 12 of the IWF Anti-Doping Policy:

Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association

  • TAWA minor athletes and non-minor athletes are prohibited for five months and eleven months respectively following the next IWF event. That time does not include events that were canceled or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • TAWA athletes shall not compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (regardless of the change of date).
  • TAWA’s membership status is suspended through April 1st, 2023 (3 years). This sanction may be lifted as early as March 7th, 2022 if TAWA demonstrates pre-defined criteria. (Note: that criteria was not defined in the press release.)
  • TAWA received a fine of $200,000.00USD; $100,000 as a penalty and $100,000 to offset costs incurred by the IWF for additional testing of TAWA athletes.

Malaysian Weightlifting Federation

  • MWF athletes are prohibited from IWF events for an additional five months following the next IWF event which takes place.
  • MWF athletes shall not compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (regardless of the change of date).
  • MWF is suspended from all IWF activities through April 1st, 2021. This one-year suspension may be lifted as early as October 1st, 2020 if MWF demonstrates pre-defined criteria. (Note: that criteria was not defined in the press release.)

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The accusations of anti-doping policy violations by TAWA were originally made by a TV documentary titled Secret Doping – the Lord of the Lifters aired by ARD, a German state broadcaster, on January, 5th 2020. The documentary also alleged financial corruption by the IWF, the cover-up of false drug testing  by the Hungarian National Anti-Doping Agency (HUNADO), and doping in Thailand among lifters as young as thirteen.

According to the Bangkok Post, members of the TAWA executive board “unanimously agreed to resign to take responsibility” in January following the documentary’s allegations.

TAWA and MWF were officially informed of the sanctions being imposed by the IMFSP on April 1, 2020 and have twenty-one days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). TAWA has already announced they plan to do so. 

Feature image from Saran Wanglee’s Instagram page: @swanglee

Phil Blechman

Phil Blechman

Phil is a native New Yorker passionate about storytelling, bodybuilding, and game design. He holds a BFA from Syracuse University.

Before becoming a Staff Writer at BarBend, Phil worked on the creative team at World Wrestling Entertainment, as a narrator for Audible.com with over a dozen titles, and as a producer, director, and playwright Off-Broadway in New York City where he worked for The Araca Group and co-founded IJB Theatrical Productions. He can be heard as a co-host of both the Here’s What’s Up podcast and Eternal Durdles podcast.

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