Paris: Russia’s eight-strong Olympic Games weightlifting team was banned from the Rio Games in the latest doping-related blow to the sporting powerhouse.
“The integrity of the weightlifting sport has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians, therefore an appropriate sanction was applied in order to preserve the status of the sport,” said a statement by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
There are now 117 Russian competitors banned from the Games — including 67 track and field athletes — from the 387 initially nominated by the Russian Olympic Committee. The eight weightlifters originally selected were Oleg Chen, Adam Maligov, Ruslan Albegov, David Bedzhanyan and Artem Okulov in the men’s competition and Tatiana Kashirina, Tima Turieva and Anastasia Romanova in the women’s. Okulov is a world champion while at the London Games in 2012, Albegov claimed a bronze medal and Kashirina took home a silver. Kashirina and Romanova both had their nominations withdrawn by the Russian Olympic Committee due to prior anti-doping rule violations, added the IWF statement.
Four others were listed in the bombshell McLaren report which exposed widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia. In the aftermath of that report, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) resisted huge pressure to impose a blanket ban on Russia from the Olympics which get underway on August 5. Instead, they asked individual federations to make the call on who should be cleared for the Games.
“Under these exceptional circumstances, Russian athletes in any of the 28 Olympic summer sports have to assume the consequences of what amounts to a collective responsibility in order to protect the credibility of the Olympic competitions, and the ‘presumption of innocence’ cannot be applied to them,” added the IWF.
“On the other hand, according to the rules of natural justice, individual justice, to which every human being is entitled, has to be applied. This means that each affected athlete must be given the opportunity to rebut the applicability of collective responsibility in his or her individual case.”
The IWF in highlighting “the extremely shocking and disappointing statistics regarding the Russian weightlifters” added that seven dope tests being re-examined from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics have returned positive results. The McLaren report found that the Moscow laboratory at the centre of Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme hid 117 positive weightlifting tests over a four-year period — a figure second only to track and field.