The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has already moved to ban Russia’s weightlifters from international competition, a sanction many assumed would take effect following the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Now, amidst allegations of a Russian state-run testing scandal that allowed athletes to avoid detection for banned substances, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is recommending Russian athletes across sports be barred from Olympic competition.
And it appears weightlifting was among the sports most affected.
As CBC Sports Canada reports, Canadian law professor Richard McLaren released a report this week implicating testing labs in Moscow and Sochi in a massive, multi-year coverup. The alleged government-run coverup lasted from at least 2011 through 2015.
McLaren claims that, through a “disappearing positive methodology,” many positive tests were held back in order to protect doping athletes who might otherwise have been detected. The sport with the second most withheld positives, according to CBC sources?
Weightlifting, with over 100 disappearing positive tests during the investigated timeframe.
What sports were affected by Russian state sponsored doping? pic.twitter.com/dN8z6diZsw
— Jamie Strashin (@StrashinCBC) July 18, 2016
As far as mainstream media coverage goes, the track & field doping allegations are general receiving the bulk of coverage, and it’s through that category of sport that the supposed coverup first gained international attention.
Following the release of McLaren’s report, the World Anti-Doping Agency called upon the International Olympic Committee to ban all Russian athletes — and Russian athletics officials — from the Rio Olympics. Earlier this month, USADA (the U.S.A.’s anti-doping national body) CEO Travis Tygart openly requested Russian athletes receive an Olympic ban.
In the past several months, high-profile Russian weightlifters including Apti Aukhadov, Aleksey Lovchev, and Olga Zubova — among others — have been suspended from international competition following positive doping tests or retests. (Lovchev was suspended following the 2015 Houston World Championships and recently had his appeal overturned.)
The IOC has made an official statement in response to the McLaren report, and a quote from that statement is excerpted below.
“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated” — IOC President Thomas Bach
The IOC is also asking for an extension of the report that would release the names of all athletes with positive tests withheld or otherwise covered up during the time period.
A nation-wide Rio ban for Russia would keep numerous high-profile weightlifters out of the competition.
BarBend contributor Mike Graber contributed reporting to this article.