Russian Weightlifters Barred From Rio Olympics

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has barred the entire weightlifting team of Russia from competing at the Rio Olympics over doping offences.

Ruslan Albegov

The IWF decision was taken by the IWF Executive Board after carefully studying the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Independent Person (IP) Report by Prof. Richard McLaren. The executive board also looked at statistics (Re-analytical cases from the Beijing and London Olympic Games), Anti-Doping statistics concerning the Russian athletes, WADA Code, IWF Anti-Doping Policy, Olympic Charter, and IOC & WADA communications.

In a statement, the world governing body of weightlifting said some of the Russian competitors had been named in a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency that exposed evidence of state-backed cheating in Russia. It was further added that the integrity of the weightlifting sport has been seriously damaged on multiple times and levels by the Russians and therefore an appropriate sanction was applied in order to preserve the status of the sport.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) banned all eight Russian contenders (five men and three women) from the Olympics. Among those banned are world champion Artem Okulov, 2012 London Games bronze medalist Ruslan Albegov, and silver medalist Tatiana Kashirina. The nominations of Tatiana Kashirina and Anastasiia Romanova were withdrawn by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) due to prior anti-doping rule violations. Four additional athletes were listed in the McLaren Report as beneficiaries of the Disappearing Positive Methodology System.

The IWF referred to a ruling by the International Olympic Committee that left it to individual federations to decide whether Russia’s teams can participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The IOC ruling noted that Russian athletes in any of the 28 Olympic summer sports have to assume the consequences of what amounts to a collective responsibility in order to protect the credibility of the Olympic competitions.

It was further confirmed by the IWF Executive Board that the Russian Weightlifting Federation and Russian weightlifters brought the weightlifting sport into disrepute. Therefore, the IWF executive board decided to withdraw the appointment of the Russian Technical Official from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Andrey Demanov, Russian weightlifter and two-time European champion, said the dreams of athletes had been shattered by the IWF decision. Demanov added we all were hoping till the last moment that some of the competitors would take part in the Olympics and also commented that our worst fears have come to reality and further said we expected our weightlifters to win seven medals.

Commenting on the IWF verdict, Sergey Syrtsov, President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation, said IWF executive committee members were under immense pressure from senior officials while deliberating the decision. Syrtsov added we know from credible sources that, despite unprecedented pressure from the management of the International Weightlifting Federation, three executive committee members stood by their principles and voted to permit Russian heavy weightlifters Oleg Chen and David Bedzhanyan to compete in the Olympic Games. The Russian Weightlifting Federation added we will analyze everything in emergency mode now, talk to the management of Russia’s Olympic Committee lawyers and will take an appropriate decision in the near future.

Presently, about 117 Russian competitors from the 387 initially put forward by the Russian Olympic Committee are banned from the Games and they include 67 track and field athletes.


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