Doping in­creases Olympic threat

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LAUSANNE:

Weightlift­ing is buck­ling un­der the bur­den of a drug-tak­ing cul­ture that has made it one of the most no­to­ri­ous Olympic events. The sport that first ap­peared at the Olympics in 1896 ac­counted for 48 of the 104 pos­i­tive tests de­tected in new analy­ses on sam­ples from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 in Lon­don.

It could get worse as not all the re­sults of the 1,243 sam­ples have been re­vealed. Top of the sorry list was Kaza­khstan’s Ilya Ilyin, a four-time weightlifter of the year who was stripped of his Beijing and Lon­don 94kg ti­tles. The Lon­don 94kg podium has been dev­as­tated by doping. Rus­sia’s Alexandr Ivanov has had to hand in his sil­ver medal and Ana­toly Cir­icu of Moldova his bronze.

The doping merry-go-round is now so far­ci­cal that Saeid Mo­ham­mad­pour of Iran, who came fifth, is now in line for gold. The bronze medal could go to To­masz Zielinksi of Poland who came ninth on the day. “Weightlift­ing is clearly a sport at high risk of doping,” said Olivier Nig­gli, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the World An­tiDop­ing Agency (WADA). “This was clearly proved by the num­ber of cases de­tected by the In­ter­na­tional Weightlift­ing Fed­er­a­tion with WADA at the 2015 world cham­pi­onships in Hous­ton and by the retest­ing of analy­ses by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee.”

The IWF barred se­rial per­for­manceen­hanc­ing of­fend­ers Rus­sia and Bul­garia from com­pet­ing at the Rio Games. The IWF said that Rus­sia’s test re­sults were “shock­ing”. It adopted a res­o­lu­tion in June that said any coun­try which re­turns three or more pos­i­tive drugs tests from the re­anal­y­sis of sam­ples from the last two Olympics would be sus­pended for a year.

But the IOC is keep­ing a close eye on the sport, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts close to the Olympic move­ment.

“Weightlift­ing’s prob­lems are noth­ing new,” said Jean-Loup Chap­pelet, a pro­fes­sor at the IDHEAP Swiss Grad­u­ate School of Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Univer­sity of Lausanne. He said Richard Pound, first pres­i­dent of WADA, had spo­ken of ex­clud­ing weightlift­ing from the Olympics be­fore the agency was cre­ated in 1999. Chap­pelet, a spe­cial­ist on the Olympic move­ment, said it would be pos­si­ble if the IOC wanted to send a “strong sig­nal” against doping. But it would be dif­fi­cult as weightlift­ing is so pop­u­lar in Eastern Europe. “There are al­ways peo­ple who would like to see weightlift­ing and some other sports ex­pelled,” IWF di­rec­tor gen­eral At­tila Adamfi told AFP. “Yes weightlift­ing is in dan­ger but I be­lieve that weightlift­ing is in dan­ger just like ev­ery other sport.”

But Adamfi said ev­ery sport is in dan­ger be­cause the IOC’s Agenda 2020 rec­om­mends a big­ger ro­ta­tion of the sports, dis­ci­plines or events. “We know some sports where ma­nip­u­la­tion and cor­rup­tion is an is­sue, so I think there are many is­sues in many sports fed­er­a­tions.” The IOC is to carry out a re­view from 2017 of sports that will be in­cluded in the 2024 Games. Events at the Rio Games this year, as well as pre­vi­ous Olympics, will be con­sid­ered.

The IWF anti-doping poli­cies are bound to be stud­ied. Marc An­drieux, head of the French weightlift­ing fed­er­a­tion, said sev­eral na­tional chiefs had been wor­ried about the sport’s Olympic sta­tus four years ago when Ta­mas Ayan was elected IWF pres­i­dent. An­drieux says that the Hun­gar­ian Ayan took many of the crit­i­cisms on board.

“A lot of work has been done over the past four years. “At ev­ery world or Euro­pean cham­pi­onships, bus­loads of cheaters are kicked out.”

Nig­gli said that the IWF has a “solid” anti-doping pro­gramme. “But it still has les­sons to learn from the many re­cent doping cases,” he added. —AFP

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