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61 weightlifting doping positives between 2008, 2012 Olympics

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Three more weightlifters failed retests of 2012 Olympic doping samples for steroids, bringing the total number of lifters to test positive from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics to a staggering 61 athletes, according to an Olympic historian.

Romanians Roxana Cocos (women’s 69kg silver medalist) and Razan Martin (men’s 69kg bronze medalist) and Turkey’s Erol Bilgin (eighth in men’s 62kg) had urine samples from 2012 retested and come back positive for metabolites of stanozolol, according to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

That makes 35 total weightlifters who were entered in the 2012 London Games to fail drug tests from that event, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, who also counts 26 positives from the 2008 Beijing Games. A total of 34 of those lifters were original medalists, according to Mallon, though the IOC has not announced potential medals stripped for Cocos and Martin.

In the men’s 94kg event alone in London, all three medalists and six of the top seven finishers were disqualified, all for anabolic steroids. Thirteen of the 15 weight classes in London have at least one disqualification, with one clean men’s event and one clean women’s event left.

The IOC reduced the size of the weightlifting competition for the Tokyo Games. The new rules are a way of ensuring the countries most to blame for weightlifting’s predicament pay the heaviest price.

In April 2018, the IWF published new rules which limit countries to one male and one female entry in Tokyo if they have had more than 20 doping cases in the sport since July 2008. That list of countries includes Russia.

The new rules also force athletes to compete in at least six major events in the 18-month Olympic qualifying period. In the past, some lifters have barely competed ahead of the Olympics, leading to suspicions they were avoiding doping tests.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(h/t @OlympicStatman)

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

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