LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Three female weightlifters from Kazakhstan have been stripped of gold medals from the 2012 London Olympics after failing retests of their doping samples.
The Kazakh lifters were among eight athletes sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee on Thursday after their stored samples came back positive for steroids.
Zulfiya Chinshanlo, Maiya Maneza and Svetlana Podobedova have been stripped of the gold medals they won in the 53-kilogram, 63kg and 75kg divisions, respectively. All three tested positive for the steroid stanozolol, with Chinshanlo’s sample also containing oxandrolone.
The IOC did not say whether the medals would be reallocated to other athletes. If that happens, Christine Girard of Canada would be elevated to silver in the 63kg class and could get gold if a failed doping test from a Russian lifter who was the original second-place finisher also results in a ban.
Also Thursday, a female weightlifter from Belarus was stripped of a bronze medal. Marina Shkermankova had finished third in the 69kg class. Also disqualified were two other Belarusian lifters, a Russian hammer thrower and a Russian pole vaulter, none of whom won medals.
The punishments for the Kazakh and Belarusian weightlifters are now set to trigger an automatic one-year ban from all international weightlifting competitions for the two countries under International Weightlifting Federation rules imposing automatic bans if at least three of a country’s athletes fail Olympic retests.
The IOC said a case against a Russian wrestler who won a silver medal was dropped because he died in a car crash three years ago. The IOC disciplinary commission said Besik Kudukhov‘s result will stand because it cannot rule on doping cases involving the dead.
“The situation is unsatisfactory as it implies that Olympic results which would probably have had to be reviewed will remain uncorrected,” the commission noted in its ruling.
The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years so they can be reanalyzed when improved testing methods become available.
The IOC recorded a total of 98 positive cases in recent retests of samples from the London Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics, with almost half of the cases in weightlifting.
Weightlifting has long struggled with doping, but is under particular pressure over the retests. In one event from 2012, six of the top-10 finishers have tested positive.
In August, IWF president Tamas Ajan told The Associated Press he hoped the sport would be allowed to stay on the Olympic program for future games despite its struggles with steroids, and said he wanted to ban leading countries from the sport for a year in a process he likened to shock therapy.
The retests have also implicated a Kazakh gold medalist who is the sport’s biggest star on social media. Ilya Ilyin has failed retests from both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, though the IOC has not yet finished processing those cases.
MORE: Six of top seven from Olympic event positive in doping retests