13th June 2017

IOC threatens weightlifting with expulsion from 2024 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has warned the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) that it has until December to produce a report into how it plans to address doping, otherwise it risks exclusion from the 2024 Olympics. “The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has until December 2017 to deliver a satisfactory report to the IOC on how they will address the massive doping problem this sport is facing”, IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters, reported Reuters.

On 5 April, weightlifting accounted for almost half of the adverse analytical findings (AAFs) reported from the IOC’s retests of samples taken at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games (49 of 109). However, testing at the Olympics is managed by the host country through its Olympic Committee, not by the international federations.

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Observer (IO) report for the Rio 2016 Olympics found that ‘there was little or no In-Competition blood testing in many high risk sports and disciplines, including weightlifting’. As such, the IOC will have to rely on stored urine samples for any future retesting programme on weightlifters who competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Article 12.3.1 of the IWF’s Anti-Doping Policy, introduced after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, allows it to ban national member federations for up to two years if they report more than three anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) in a calendar year. While the IOC has faced criticism for not banning Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympics, the IWF banned Bulgaria from the Rio 2016 Olympics, after the country reported 11 AAFs in March 2015.

At present, it is understood that no other international sporting federation has such a rule allowing it to ban a member federation that reports a certain number of AAFs during a 12-month period. WADA’s Founding President, Dick Pound, has said that the agency is considering making such a rule mandatory in the next round of revisions to the World Anti-Doping Code.

WADA has also outlined a ‘graded sanctioning framework’ that would take any decision on whether to ban a non-compliant World Anti-Doping Code signatory from international competition. It is understood that it is hoped that this would avoid the chaos that followed the IOC’s decision to place responsibility for the participation of Russian athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympics back into the hands of the international federations.

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