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Retroactive analysis brings doping charges against Russian weightlifters

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MOSCOW (AP) — Five Russian weightlifters, all of them world or European championship medalists, face doping charges which could herald a new wave of cases across a range of sports.

The International Weightlifting Federation said Tuesday that evidence against the five lifters, including 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Ruslan Albegov, comes from new investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency into widespread drug use in Russian sports. All five have been provisionally suspended.

Albegov was also provisionally suspended in 2017, but the suspension was lifted the next year. The entire Russian team was banned from the 2016 Olympics.

IWF president Tamas Ajan said the alleged offenses occurred “some years ago” and should be seen as part of efforts to clean up weightlifting, which was responsible for dozens of doping cases at recent Olympics.

“We have not shown any hesitation in taking the right decisions,” he said in a statement. “While the IWF has done so much to begin a bright new chapter for our sport, we will also do what we can to pursue historical cases of doping.”

Albegov is a two-time world champion who won bronze in July in a test event for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

The others are world champion Tima Turiyeva and double European champions Oleg Chen and David Bedzhanyan, as well as Egor Klimonov, who won European championship silver in April.

Russia was banned entirely from weightlifting at the 2016 Olympics when the IWF said its doping problem brought the sport into disrepute. For next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Russia is among 17 countries hit with new doping-related restrictions on the size of their squads.

WADA has been analyzing a vast archive of data obtained in January from the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, where cases were routinely covered up for years. WADA has started handing over its results to sports federations. It also obtained a batch of stored drug-test samples in April.

The lab data was crucial to bans for two Russians in the winter sport of biathlon in June. The International Biathlon Union handed Alexander Chernyshov and Alexander Pechyonkin longer bans because it deemed their conduct was aggravated by being part of an “organized doping scheme.”

WADA president Craig Reedie said at the time that he expects more than 100 new doping cases to be brought across various Russian sports. Only a small fraction has so far been announced.

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Australian swimmer missed world championships due to positive drug test

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GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Australian swimmer Shayna Jack of Australia tested positive for a banned substance she says she did not knowingly consume but which forced her withdrawal before the world championships.

Jack earned four relay medals at the 2017 World Championships

She has been notified of the result following an out-of-competition drug test June 26, Swimming Australia said Saturday. She was suspended from the Australian team and sent home from its pre-worlds training camp in Japan.

“I did NOT take this substance knowingly,” she wrote on Instagram. “Swimming has been my passion since I was 10 years old and I would never intentionally take a banned substance that would disrespect my sport and jeopardize my career.”

Jack said she and her team are doing everything they can to find out when and how the substance “has come into contact with my body.”

The 20-year-old swimmer initially cited personal reasons for her sudden withdrawal from worlds, and Swimming Australia had declined to elaborate.

Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell said the governing body is “bitterly disappointed” about the positive test but will continue to support Jack.

“We stand for clean sport,” Aussie star Cate Campbell said, “and I think the fact that Shayna isn’t here at the moment strengthens that stance.”

The matter figures to embarrass the Australian team, some of whom have been critical of FINA’s handling of doping matters.

“Once more information comes to light we can pass judgment,” Campbell said. “But at the moment the Australian team stands for clean sport and unfortunately that is why Shayna is not with it.”

Australian Mack Horton snubbed Sun Yang on the medals podium after finishing second to the Chinese star in the 400-meter freestyle. Horton is angry that FINA allowed Sun to compete at worlds before his hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport involving a clash with drug testers.

MORE: Ryan Lochte sets return from suspension

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Russia eyes Tokyo Olympics amid doping troubles

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will become a force in the medals table at the Tokyo Olympics despite its current doping problems, the country’s sports minister said Wednesday.

Russia won just 19 gold medals in Rio, its lowest count since Soviet days. It was fourth in the medals table behind the United States, Great Britain and China.

“We’re not thinking about lawsuits or arguments. We’re preparing calmly,” Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said. “In most sports, even in sports where we didn’t have great results a while back, we will be competing for medals.”

Russia was allowed to field only one athlete in track and field and none in weightlifting because of measures imposed in the wake of doping cases. Two years later at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Russia’s team was officially barred for past doping offenses, and a diminished team of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” competed instead.

Russia was formally readmitted by the International Olympic Committee after the PyeongChang Games and restrictions on its roster will be relaxed next year compared to the last Summer Olympics.

Dozens of Russians have passed vetting from the IAAF and are now allowed to compete internationally in track.

Russia will only be able to send one male and one female weightlifter to Tokyo under new rules restricting quotas for countries with a history of doping in that sport. China, India and Iran are among 16 other countries hit by the weightlifting rule change.

“Roughly speaking, we understand we’ve already formed a pool of athletes who can compete for (Olympic) medals. I can say that we’ll be competitive in 20 sports,” Kolobkov said. “So we’re expecting a very interesting year of qualification for the Olympics, and I’m sure the Olympics will please our fans with good results.”

The five new sports on the Olympic program for Tokyo, including skateboarding, baseball and surfing, generally don’t play to Russia’s traditional strengths. However, officials say they are drawing up plans to help more young Russians to train for those events.

MORE: Russia doping: 100 ‘strong cases’ found by WADA

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