December 23, 2016
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stripped four more medalists of their awards, putting an Iranian weightlifter in line to win a gold medal from the 2012 Olympics.
Three Olympic gold medals and one silver medal were stripped from athletes caught in the latest round of positive doping retests from the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games.
Seven athletes from Bela-rus, Azerbaijan and Kazakh-stan—all once part of the Soviet Union—were retroactively disqualified after testing positive for steroids in a reanalysis of their stored doping samples, the IOC said.
The IOC, which stores samples for 10 years, is reanalyzing more than 1,000 samples from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Olympics with improved techniques that can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.
Weightlifter Ilya Ilyin of Kazakhstan was formally stripped of two gold medals— one each from the Beijing and London Games, both in the 94-kilogram class. He is believed to be the first summer Olympic athlete to lose two golds for doping.
Saeid Mohammedpour of Iran is in line to take Ilyin’s 2012 gold while Szymon Kolecki of Poland will likely inherit the 2008 gold. However, the IOC didn’t act Friday or reallocating the medals.
Kazakhstan’s weightlifting program, which had been one of the world’s most successful over the last 10 years, has been almost wiped out by the retesting, with all five gold medals won by Kazakh lifters in 2008 and 2012 now stripped.
For Belarus, a husband and wife were both stripped of their shot put medals. In 2008, Natalia Mikhnevich had won the silver medal in the women’s shot put and her husband, Andrei, had won bronze in the men’s event.
The IOC has so far recorded at least 98 positive tests across numerous sports from the London and Beijing retesting program, with more expected in the pipeline.
Mohammedpour had finished fifth in the 2012 94-kilo division of weightlifting. He didn’t come close to a medal. At least not then.
But as the Iran Times reported in October, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found banned substances in the urine samples of the weightlifters in that division who finished first, second, third and fourth.
The IOC has now accepted WADA’s reports, as it normally does, opening the door for Mohammedpour to be the fifth Iranian to win a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.
The lifters who finished in sixth and seventh places in 2012 have also been reported by WADA for illegal substances. That means the men who finished eighth and ninth could be elevated to silver and bronze medal winners.
All six facing disqualification are from states that were once part of the Soviet Union.
A total of 44 weightlifters have now failed doping retests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, prompting some calls for weightlifting to be dropped from the Olympics.
Historically, weightlifting has been the main center of doping scandals, both globally and in Iran. The Iranian Weightlifting Federation seems to have moved firmly against the use of illegal substances after 11 Iranian weightlifters were tabbed for doping in 2006.
Of the 24 world records in weightlifting, Iranians currently hold four. At 85 kilos, Kianoush Rostami holds the record for the clean & jerk and total lift. In the super-heavyweight division, Behdad Salimi holds the record for the snatch and Hossain Rezazadeh holds the clean & jerk record. But the total lift record is held by Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia.
Rostami, who won the gold medal in the 85-kilo weight division at last summer’s Olympics, won the bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. But now silver medalist Apti Aukhadov of Russia has been cited for the illegal use of banned substances.
If the International Olympic Committee reallocates the medals awarded in 2012, Rostami will advance from bronze to silver medalist, while Tarek Yahia of Egypt will advance from fourth place to bronze.
The 2012 gold medal at 85 kilos was won by Adrian Zielinski of Poland, who was banned from this year’s Olympics after he failed a drug test before last summer’s games. It isn’t known if his 2012 urine sample has yet been retested. If he goes down, Rostami could have golds from two successive Olympics.