Olympics: Weightlifting aims to shrug off doping burden


RIO DE JANEIRO : Olympic weightlifting will open under a doping cloud on Saturday with Russia and Bulgaria banned, frustrating officials who strived to clean up the sport in time for the Rio Games.
World governing body the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) launched a major crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs for the Games, but admits its reputation remains tainted.
“It s true that many people say that weightlifting is doping, but I hope this perception will change sooner rather than later,” IWF director general Attila Adamfi told Media on Friday.
“We ve made the tough decisions.”
That includes banning the Russian and Bulgarian teams, both traditional powerhouses, for repeated doping offences.
It also punished North Korea, Romania, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Moldova by reducing the allocation of lifters they can send to Rio.
Yet Kazakhstan and Belarus will take part, despite IWF concerns, because the International Olympic Committee was unable to complete retesting of samples from the Beijing and London Games before Rio begins.
“What I think and what people might think morally is the right thing is not the same as what can be implemented legally,” Adamfi told
“We have to follow the right procedure.”
It s a familiar problem for weightlifting, which was one of the nine sports included in the first modern Olympics in 1896.
While a rich source of medals — 15 are up for grabs in Rio comprising eight men s weight categories and seven women s — the sport s reputation for drug abuse is rivalled only by cycling and sprinting.
Bulgarian weightlifting teams were sent home in disgrace from the 1988 Seoul and 2000 Sydney Olympics and withdrew voluntarily ahead of the 2008 Beijing Games.
Doping was so rife after the 1992 Barcelona Games that weightlifting s governing body changed all its weight classes, expunging all its Olympic and world records in an attempt to turn a new page.