13 February 2019

Additional weightlifting AAFs could cause further problems for Thailand

Thailand’s hosting of the 2019 IWF World Championships in Pattaya has been placed under further pressure, after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced two more adverse analytical findings (AAF) involving athletes it had already provisionally suspended. The AAFs mean that eight Thai weightlifters have been suspended for ten AAFs since December last year. 

If three or more of the ten AAFs cannot be explained and result in anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs), Thailand could face a ban from international competition. This would leave the IWF with a difficult choice about whether to reallocate the 2019 Worlds.

In November 2015, the IWF banned Bulgaria from the Rio 2016 Olympics, after 11 of its weightlifters reported ADRVs. Under Article 12.3.1 of its Anti-Doping Policy, the IWF can ban member federations from international competition for up to two years if three or more ADRVs occur during a year. This rule was introduced after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, due to the number of AAFs being reported in the sport.

The IWF announced that a sample taken from Sopita Tanasan had reported an AAF for exogenous Etiocholanolone and 5βAdiol, Androsterone and 5βAdiol, all of which are anabolic agents. Tanasan won Gold in the 48kg category at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but finished fourth at the 2018 IWF World Championships. In January, it was announced that her sample from the 2018 Worlds had tested positive for Exogenous Testosterone (T) and at least one of the Adiols (5aAdiol and/or 5bAdiol). 

The IWF also announced that Teerapat Chomchuen had returned an AAF for the same substances. In December, Chomchuen, who won Gold in the 50kg men’s event at the 2017 IWF World Youth Championships, was provisionally suspended after returning an AAF for exogenous testosterone.

Weightlifting is currently only conditionally included in the programme for the Paris 2024 Olympics. In November last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed concern at the participation of non-eligible athletes in an exhibition ahead of the 2018 IWF World Championships. The IOC said that it would await the transition of the IWF anti-doping programme from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) to the International Testing Agency (ITA) before making a decision on whether weightlifting should be reinstated into the Paris 2024 programme.

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