Russian weightlifters banned from Rio Olympics for doping


By Pablo Gorondi

Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary — All of Russia’s weightlifters were banned from the Rio Olympics on Friday for doping for what the international federation called “extremely shocking” results that brought the sport into “disrepute.”

The eight competition spots have been offered to other countries.

The International Weightlifting Federation said the “integrity of the weightlifting sport has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians.” It said the punishment was an “appropriate sanction” to “preserve the status of the sport.”

The IWF described the doping results as “extremely shocking and disappointing.”

Weightlifting became the second sport after track and field to issue blanket bans on Russian athletes. Other sports — including rowing, wrestling, modern pentathlon and sailing — have banned one or more Russians from competing in Rio de Janeiro, but not all of the country’s eligible athletes.

To replace the eight Russian lifters in Rio, five countries were offered places in the men’s competition — Belarus, Croatia, El Salvador, Mongolia and Serbia. For the women, Albania, Georgia and Moldova became eligible. Because of the lateness of the decision, the IWF said it was not clear whether all the spots would be filled

In justifying its actions against Russia, the IWF said retests of samples from seven Russian weightlifters who took part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics or 2012 London Olympics resulted in positive tests, and more were expected.

Two female weightlifters — Tatiana Kashirina and Anastasiia Romanova — were withdrawn by the Russian federation for earlier doping offenses. The names of the other banned lifters were not announced.

Four additional weightlifters were mentioned in World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren’s report — which alleged a massive cover-up of failed drug tests — as having benefited from the “disappearing positive methodology system” used by Russia to mask doping results.

The IWF said the ban also applied to Russia’s technical official for the Rio Games, whose appointment was withdrawn.

The IWF ruling took time because on Tuesday it asked the International Olympic Committee and WADA for “further clarification” on the recent IOC ruling giving individual sports federations the responsibility of deciding which Russian athletes can compete in Rio.

Weightlifting has long had problems with doping, though the federation has gradually toughened testing and sanctions. Tellingly, 31 of the 98 positives confirmed so far in the retests of samples taken at the 2008 or 2012 Olympics have been by weightlifters.

By Pablo Gorondi

Associated Press

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