Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association board quits en masse over doping
Members of the executive board of the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association resigned on Thursday following a doping allegation, Tawa president Boossaba Yodbangtoey said.
While Boossaba insisted the accusation made by a German broadcaster was untrue, the Tawa board members unanimously agreed to resign to take responsibility.
In a documentary aired earlier this month, German broadcaster ARD made accusations of corruption and doping cover-ups at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
The programme also filmed Thailand's 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Rattikan (now Siripuch) Gulnoi admitting to using steroids when she was 18 years old.
Boossaba said in a statement that Siripuch was filmed by a hidden camera and only wanted to share her own thoughts by innocently talking about doping abuse in Thai weightlifting.
"She was cheated with fake status of the journalist who neither identified his real name nor showed his real profession," she said.
The statement said Siripuch was "tricked" into believing that the person was manager of a German weightlifting team who was willing to do business with the gym where she worked then.
Siripuch was so excited about the chance of getting a new client so she talked to him without "consciousness" and the knowledge of whether what she said was true or not, according to the statement.
Siripuch, now 26, finished fourth in the 58kg division at the 2012 London Olympics but was later bumped up to third after Ukraine's Yulia Kalina was stripped of her bronze medal for doping.
Siripuch also took part in the 2016 Olympics but was unsuccessful in the 63kg class.
Boossaba admitted some athletes of Tawa member clubs were found to have used banned substances in 2011 but those involved had already been punished by Tawa and the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).
"Tawa has always upheld the code of ethics and good governance," Boossaba said.
"To prevent the matter, which is not true, from further tarnishing the image of the sport and the country, the Tawa executive board members want to show their responsibility with their resignations effective January 30, 2020."
Investigative reporter Hajo Seppelt, who co-authored the ARD documentary, said reporters had indeed gone undercover in order to get the information.
"In order to reveal the truth about massive doping in Thai weightlifting we had to act as undercover reporters otherwise the athlete would have never admitted what she did on camera," Seppelt told Reuters.
"Everything is in full length, unedited and in original voice. We have been asked by anti-doping entities for the material."
Weightlifting is Thailand's most successful sport at the Olympics with five gold medals.
Tawa has been suspended indefinitely from taking part in international tournaments after a number of its athletes tested positive at the 2018 world championships.