In another major setback for weightlifting, Olympic gold medalist Oxana Slivenko of Russia was named amongst the 13 lifters to face doping charges by the International Testing Agency.
The cases date from the European weightlifting championships in April 2012, in the run-up to the London Olympics. It follows ITA re-testing old samples using modern methods. Out of the 13 lifters, 11 won medals in Turkey. They are temporarily suspended until their cases are resolved.
Eight of the 13 weightlifters have already served bans at some point in their careers and most of them are retired.
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Slivenko is the biggest name amongst the 13 accused of doping. She won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bagged became the 2012 European champion. However, she withdrew from the London Games citing injury.
The Russian weightlifter has already served a doping ban from 2018 to 2020. Earlier in March, the International Weightlifting Federation said that Slivenko is also accused in a separate doping case related to the Moscow drug-testing laboratory.
Any weightlifters found to have doped at the 2012 European championships could also be disqualified from that year’s Olympics, but it wouldn’t affect the medals.
Moldova’s Cristina Iovu and Romania’s Razvan Martin are the only two London Olympic weightlifting medalists amongst the 13 charged by the ITA. Both weightlifters have been stripped of their medals for other doping offenses.
Why is this setback for weightlifting?
The ITA has been trying to take weightlifting out of its murky history of doping. Last year an investigation found that former IWF president Tamas Ajan presided over a system in which doping cases had been covered up and more than $10 million was unaccounted for.
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is keeping a close watch on weightlifting. It will decide whether the sport should be part of the 2024 Paris Olympics program or not.