In a statement published on September 30th, the International Weightlifting Federation has confirmed the national weightliftings bodies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine will receive one-year bans from international competition.
While the IWF had previously announced bans for any countries found to have three or more anti-doping violations from 2008 and 2012 Olympic retests — which included the nine countries listed above — it was unclear exactly if and when those one-year bans would start. The September 30th announcement says the IWF’s Executive Board unanimously voted in support of the bans.
“IWF Executive Board has decided that National Federations (NFs)* confirmed to have produced 3 or more Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV) in the combined re-analysis process of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shall be suspended for 1 year.”
According to their website’s statement, the decisions are scheduled to take effect in mid-October.
Though their statement doesn’t explicitly state it, bans starting in October would render athletes from the above countries ineligible to compete in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships. That competition is scheduled to take place in November/December this year in Anaheim, California.
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The delay between the initial ban announcement — made on June 22, 2016, in what has come to be known as the “Tbilisi Decision” — and today’s news is likely due to the open status of International Olympic Committee doping reanalysis cases in weightlifting. According to the IWF, only two cases were definitively closed before the 2016 Rio Olympics, and the final cases were closed in late August of this year.
Several countries had gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal the “Tbilisi Decision,” though the appeals appeared to be unsuccessful. The Russian Weightlifting Federation willingly withdrew their ban appeal in January of this year.
IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan commented publicly on IWF’s most recent decision:
“At the IWF we have made it clear that the incidence of doping in some areas is totally unacceptable and that our Members have a responsibility to ensure clean sport in their countries. If they do not fulfil [sic] their responsibilities to ensure their lifters are clean then they will lose their right to participate. But we will not turn our backs on them; we will continue to work with them, WADA and their National Anti-Doping Agencies to support their anti-doping activities and help make cultural change.”
Featured image: IWF.net