News 11th February 2019

Thai weightlifting AAFs put 2019 IWF Worlds under threat

Two Thai and two Vietnamese weightlifters have been provisionally suspended after returning adverse analytical findings (AAFs) for prohibited substances, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced. The AAFs follow the provisional suspension of four Thai weightlifters in January, and the provisional suspension of two more Thai weightlifters in December last year. 

It also means that all three of Thailand’s Gold medal winners from the 2018 IWF World Championships in Ashgabat have been provisionally suspended following AAFs. The IWF announced that Chayuttra Pramongkhol, who won Gold in the -49kg category at the 2018 IWF Worlds, had returned an AAF for exogenous testosterone and ‘at least’ one of its adiols. The IWF also announced that Rattanawan Wamalun returned an AAF for exogenous 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol (5aAdiol) and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol (5bAdiol). Wamalun won a Bronze medal in the -64kg category at the 2018 IWF Worlds.

In January, the IWF announced that four Thai weightlifters had been provisionally suspended for AAFs at the 2018 Worlds. This included Thunya Sukcharoen who won Gold in the 45kg category, and Sukanya Srisurat, who won Gold in the 55kg category. The IWF did not reveal if Pramongkhol and Wamalun’s AAFs were also as a result of tests at the 2018 IWF Worlds.

The two new Thai AAFs mean that eight of its weightlifters have been provisionally suspended since December last year, a situation that has prompted the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association to launch an investigation. It is understood that Thailand has not entered any female weightlifters into the EGATs Cup, which is currently taking place in Chiang Mai. 

Thailand is slated to host the 2019 IWF World Championships in Pattaya in September. If three or more of the eight Thai AAFs cannot be explained and result in 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 two Vietnamese weightlifters provisionally suspended are Trịnh Văn Vinh, who won Silver in the 62kg category at the 2018 Asian Games and youth lifter Thi Phuong Thahn Nguyen. Văn Vinh returned an AAF for exogenous testosterone and ‘at least’ one of its adiols, the IWF announced. Nguyen returned an AAF for exogenous 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol (5aAdiol) and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol (5bAdiol), announced the IWF.

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 Worlds, where at least four of the AAFs occurred. 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) this month before making a decision on whether weightlifting should be reinstated into the Paris 2024 programme.

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