Report: Weightlifters from Russia and 4 Other Countries Lose Tokyo Olympic Spots; Qualification System Changed

In a story broken by Reuters today, five nations have had their spots for weightlifting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics reduced to two athletes apiece. The IWF is also introducing a new qualification system for Olympic spots that will require individual athletes to compete six times during the 18-month qualification period for Tokyo.

In an effort to crack down on the heavily reported doping scandals at the highest levels of Olympic weightlifting, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has put new rules into effect that state any nation with 20 or more doping violations between 2008 and 2020 can only admit one male and one female weightlifter to the Tokyo Games.

Five countries meet this criterion: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus.

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

Several other countries were also affected by the update. In addition to the rule that affected the aforementioned five nations, countries that have had between ten and nineteen doping violations during that period will be limited to four weightlifters. That rule will impact nine more countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, India, Iran, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Countries with fewer than ten violations can send four men and four women maximum based on qualification procedures.

According to the IWF, there may be additional sanctions, including possible bans from iterations of Olympic Games all together, if any further doping violations occur before the Tokyo Games begin.

The International Olympic Committee has approved the policy and USA Weightlifting’s CEO Phil Andrews told Reuters,

This is a monumental step forward for weightlifting and for athletes around the world. This new qualification system is a huge step for clean sport.

Two hundred and sixty weightlifters headed to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Following new regulations handed down by the International Olympic Committee as a result of the doping retests, just 196 will be allowed to compete in Tokyo.

Reuters also notes,

Among other changes, the IWF has made Olympic qualifying an individual rather than a team-based system, which will lead to more testing of prospective Olympic lifters.

All those who want to be in Tokyo will have to compete six times during the 18-month qualifying period, making it impossible for athletes to stay away for long periods, which has happened in the past.

Times are changing in international weightlifting. We’ll be reporting on more updates and details of the new qualification procedures as they become available.

Featured image via @aukhadov on Instagram.

Editor’s Note: BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. The two organizations maintain editorial independence unless specified in special editorial projects and syndication.

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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.