The greatest embarrassment of Olympic sport or how to lose six gold medals for doping


If there are two sports in the sights of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is weightlifting and boxing. In fact, last December 9 it was announced that, at least initially, they are not included in the program of the Los Angeles 2028 Games. Neither did the pentathlon, although for very different reasons related to animal abuse.

Boxing and its governing body, the International boxing association (AIBA), were hit hard after the match-fixing scandal at the Rio 2016 Games and it is difficult for them to recover because in Tokyo 2020 there were also several highly questionable results, some of them involving Spanish fighters.

Weightlifting is even bloodier because we talk about doping. As a reminder, what happened with the men’s -94 kg category in London 2012 Games, in which up to eight competitors, including the first four classified, fell like flies into the blood of the reanalyses carried out over the following years.

To give you an idea, Poland Tomasz Zieliski, who initially placed ninth – that is, without an Olympic diploma – at 385 kg, ended up with bronze. The gold initially went to Kazakhstan Ilya Ilyin with a world record (418 kg).

Ilyin is one of five Kazakh weightlifters who have lost six of his country’s seven gold medals between Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 because of doping. In his case, it was two metals of gold that flew away given that in the British capital he was defending the title won four years earlier in China.

A gold medal ahead of Lydia Valentine

Also from London 2012 are the weightlifters disqualifications Zulfiya Chinshanlo (-53kg), Maia Maneza (-63 kg) and Svetlana Podobedova (-75kg). The embarrassing list was completed today by Nijat Rahimovgold in -77 kg at Rio 2016. Alla Vazhenina, gold in -75 kg at Beijing 2008 ahead of Lydia Valentinewas saved from the fire.

Rahimov, banned for eight years, surprised the Chinese in the capital of Rio de Janeiro Lu Xiaojun, who was defending the London 2012 title and was beaten by the Kazakh’s world record with 379 kg. Rahimov’s sin was to exchange urine samples with a “clean” athlete three times before the Rio Games, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled.

Last summer in Tokyo, Lu Xiaojun became the oldest Olympic weightlifting champion (37 years old) by winning the -81 kg category. Now, after Rahimov’s disqualification, he is only the fifth weightlifter with three Olympic gold medals and the first of them to be Asian.

A “miracle” of 39 kilos

Rahimov, 28, first competed for Azerbaijanhis country of birth, and in 2013 had already been suspended for two years after testing positive for an out-of-competition test for oxandrolone and turinabol.

At the Rio Games, Rahimov lifted 39 kilograms more than his previous record (340 kilograms) and 35 more than he achieved in any competition in subsequent years. His last appearance was at Qatar Cup in December 2019.

Despite all these scandals, Kazakhstan was not among the four countries (Egypt, Malaysia, Romania and Thailand) excluded from the Tokyo Games for cases of repeated doping.

In fact, he was sanctioned but was able to field two lifters, one per gender, with great results as they both won bronze. Igor Son in -61 kg and Zulfiya Chinshanlo in -55 kg.

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