28 July 2016

Weightlifters constitute one quarter of AAFs identified by IOC retests

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced that 11 adverse analytical findings (AAFs) from the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) second wave of retests from samples given at the London 2012 Olympics involve weightlifters. This means that weightlifters represent almost all of the 15 AAFs from London 2012 samples announced in the IOC’s second wave of retests.

As the table below shows, weightlifters now make up one quarter (25 athletes or 25.5%) of the 98 athletes who have returned an AAF from the IOC’s retesting programme from samples given at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games. This includes five gold medals (won by four people), four silver medals and six bronze medals.

The table now includes seven Russians. Russia was provisionally suspended by the IWF in June, after the IWF decided that countries that returned three or more positives from the IOC’s retests would be suspended. The IWF entry list for Rio 2016 includes eight Russians, however none of those listed feature in yesterday’s IWF announcement.

Under Article 12.3 of the IWF’s anti-doping policy, the IWF can choose to suspend a member federation from all IWF activities for a period of four years, if it reports more than nine positives in a year. In its 22 June announcement on its retesting programme, the IOC said that a third and fourth wave of retests ‘are expected to continue throughout and after the Olympic Games Rio 2016’.

The fact that four Russians are included in the 11 weightlifting AAFs outlined yesterday is likely to put pressure on the IWF to exclude Russian weightlifters from the Rio Olympics. On 25 July, the IWF announced that it is still evaluating whether the eight Russian weightlifters can compete in Rio. If two further Russian weightlifting positives are announced through the IOC’s retesting programme, then questions are likely to be asked as to whether Russian weightlifters should have been at the Rio Olympics at all.

Six London 2012 medal winners were amongst the AAFs announced by the IWF yesterday. They included three Russians: Alexandr Ivanov, who took a silver medal in the 94kg category; Svetlana Tsarukaeva, who took silver in the 63kg category; and Nataliya Zabolotnaya, who took silver in the 75kg category.  Also included was Moldova’s Cristina Iovu, who took bronze in the 53kg category; Belorussian Iryna Kulesha, who took bronze in the -75kg category; and Hripsime Khurshudyan from Armenia, who took bronze in the 75kg category. Khurshudyan had already returned an AAF for stanozolol as a result of the IOC’s retests of the Beijing 2008 samples, as announced by the IWF on 21 June.

All of the AAFs announced yesterday involved dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, an androgenic anabolic steroid. It is a pill form of turinabol, a steroid developed in the 1960s. It was previously thought to be difficult to detect due to quick exertion times, which perhaps explains why it features so prominently in the IOC retests.

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