Turkish Weightlifter Daniyar Ismayilov Faces Possible 8-Year Ban After Doping Charge

The Rio silver medalist faces a potential career-ending suspension following a positive drug test.

Daniyar Ismayilov, who won silver at the 2016 Olympic Games in the now-defunct Mens’ 69-kilogram category, is facing a possible four to eight-year suspension from competition following a drug-related infraction.

The 29-year-old weightlifter, who was born in Turkmenistan but fled the country to compete for Turkey in the mid-2010s, has been reportedly sanctioned by the Turkish National Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Commission (TADC) after testing positive for an unnamed prohibited substance in April 2021, according to Turkish media outlet Fanatik.

Ismayilov has previously been declared ineligible to compete on behalf of Turkey at the 2020 Olympic Games after his failure to post a total at the 2019 European Weightlifting Championships (EWC). However, the 73-kilogram athlete saw recent success in the international circuit after winning his category at the 2021 EWC in Moscow this spring.


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Ismayilov challenged the assertion made by the TADC, requesting that his secondary “B” sample be tested as well in an attempt to exculpate him. However, subsequent testing results appeared to have aligned with initial findings. The TADC is reportedly set to publicize specifics regarding Ismayilov’s violation “soon,” in a possible attempt to rehabilitate Turkey’s image following a series of weightlifting-related scandals in recent years.

Corruption in Weightlifting

In June 2021, then-President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Hasan Akkus, a Turkish national, stepped down following allegations of bureaucratic corruption raised by the International Testing Agency (ITA). According to reporting by Inside the Games, Akkus voluntarily “stepped aside” after the ITA claimed he was guilty of tampering with sanctions made against the Turkish Weightlifting Federation (TWF), of which Akkus was also President at the time.

The TADC’s accusations against Ismayilov, coupled with Akkus’ self-imposed dismissal from the EWF, are the latest marks on a country marred by a pattern of ethical violations in international sport. According to the ITA, the TWF has amassed a total of thirty-two Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) between 2008 and 2021, resulting in their limited presence — one male and one female — at the Weightlifting event in Tokyo this summer.


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Future Implications 

For Ismayilov, a suspension of up to eight years by the TWF could potentially mean the end of his competitive career, given that many professional weightlifters retire in their early to mid-30s. 

Ismayilov, a three-time EWC Champion (2015, 2016, 2021) previously refused to compete at the 2018 World Weightlifting Championships (WWC), held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, fearing political retribution for his defection to Turkey several years prior. Unwilling to return to Turkmenistan and under intense pressure by the TWF, Ismayilov’s future in weightlifting remains in question.

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