Thai weightlifters banned from Olympics

Thai weightlifters banned from Olympics

World federation confirms doping ban will apply no matter when Tokyo Games are held

The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo. (Reuters Photo)
The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo. (Reuters Photo)

Weightlifters from Thailand and Malaysia will miss the Tokyo Olympics after the sport’s governing body said on Saturday it had banned their athletes after a high number of doping cases.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said in a statement that the two countries’ lifters would not compete at the Tokyo Games, regardless of the change of date.

There had been some hope in Thailand that its lifters might get a chance to compete in a rescheduled Olympics if the local federation could clean up its act.

The Olympics have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and are now scheduled to be held from July 23 to Aug 8, 2021.

The Thai and Malaysian federations can appeal the IWF ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days.

The IWF also imposed a US$200,000 fine on the Thailand Amateur Weightlifting Federation (Tawa), which had already voluntarily banned itself from all weightlifting, including the Tokyo Games, because of its recent doping record.

“Half of it is imposed as a penalty, the remainder shall be used by IWF to offset IWF costs already incurred in connection with the Tawa matter and for additional IWF testing of Tawa athletes,” the IWF said.

Eight Thai lifters, including two reigning Olympic champions, tested positive for banned substances at last year’s World Championships.

The Thais were caught when the IWF carried out extra tests in Cologne, Germany, on samples taken last November from “target athletes” at the World Championships in Turkmenistan.

The country was also involved in a doping scandal in 2011 when seven teenage girls were banned after testing positive, two of whom are among the six new cases.

The IWF suspended Tawa’s membership status for three years, saying the sanction would be reviewed on or after March 7, 2022 if “Tawa can demonstrate it has met pre-defined criteria”.

In January the entire Tawa board resigned less than a month after allegations of doping by child weightlifters were made in a German TV documentary.

Tawa has a new boss in Prachya Keeratinan, who was elected as president in March following the resignation of Boossaba Yodbangtoey to “shoulder responsibility” for the doping allegations.

The Malaysian Weightlifting Federation has been suspended for one year. The sanction will be reviewed and may be lifted as early as Oct 1, the IWF said.

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