Former weightlifting federation president gets life ban

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The former Olympic official who ran the sport of weightlifting for more than 40 years was banned for life on Thursday for covering up doping cases.

Tamás Aján of Hungary was found guilty of charges relating to tampering, fraudulent conduct and complicity in covering-up years of doping cases, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said.

The case came after allegations broadcast by German network ARD in January 2020 were verified by anti-doping investigator Richard McLaren.

McLaren was appointed by the International Weightlifting Federation when Aján was forced out of office after 20 years as president. He was general secretary for the previous 24 years.

Fallout from the case and the IWF’s response to it has put weightlifting’s Olympic status at risk. The International Olympic Committee has left weightlifting off the initial list of sports for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, but it can still be added.

As a trusted sports leader, Aján was made an IOC member for 10 years until 2010 and helped to choose Olympics host cities. He also represented Olympic sports at the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The CAS statement said the case against Aján involved “complicity in anti-doping rule violations involving multiple weightlifting athletes over a period of many years since 2012.”

During that period, Aján sat on the WADA foundation board and was an honorary member of the IOC. He resigned from the IOC within weeks of the allegations being aired.

A life ban for complicity was also imposed on Romanian weightlifting official Nicu Vlad, a former vice president of the IWF Anti-Doping Commission.

CAS did not specify the allegations Thursday, but said it would publish the detailed verdict “in due course.”

In his June 2020 report, McLaren said his team found “systematic governance failures and corruption at the highest level of the IWF.”

McLaren said at least 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records, that athletes whose cases were covered up went on to win medals at major championships, and that Aján received fines in cash from member federations. Millions of dollars was unaccounted for by the IWF, the investigation concluded.

Weightlifting’s historic doping issues were also confirmed in an IOC program of reanalysis of samples from the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Games using a new test to detect steroids. Weightlifting had more than 20 doping cases from each Olympics.

The life bans were announced 10 days before the IWF holds elections, including for a president to replace Aján more than two years after he was ousted.

Aján’s son-in-law, Attila Adamfi, was one of 16 candidates for general secretary on a list published by the IWF last month. Adamfi was the IWF’s director general at the end of Aján’s presidency.

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Olympian who swapped urine is first to have 2016 gold medal stripped

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Olympic weightlifting champion Nijat Rahimov was stripped of his 2016 gold medal and banned for eight years for doping on Tuesday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said the Kazakh lifter was guilty of “four urine substitutions” and disqualified from all his results since March 2016. He was first charged in January 2021.

Rahimov is the first gold medalist from the Rio Games to be stripped. Previously, silver and bronze medals were stripped in weightlifting, canoeing and boxing, according to Olympedia.org. At least one gold medal has been stripped for doping at every Summer Olympics from 2000 through 2016.

Rahimov’s world record at the Rio Olympics was controversial even at the time. It came one year after he served a previous ban for doping while competing for Azerbaijan.

His integrity was publicly doubted by rival Mohamed Mahmoud of Egypt, who took the bronze medal in the 77kg class.

“Maybe after some doping controls, some things will change,” Mahmoud said in Rio.

Mahmoud is now in line to get the silver medal with Chinese great Lyu Xiaojun likely to be upgraded to become a three-time Olympic champion.

Lyu became the oldest men’s Olympic champion in weightlifting last year in Tokyo by winning the 81kg class at the age of 37.

Rahimov was eventually caught as part of the “Operation Arrow” investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The investigation began after German broadcaster ARD detailed widespread doping and corruption issues in the sport and the International Weightlifting Federation.

CAS said Rahimov will be banned until January 2029. He can challenge the verdict at the CAS appeal division.

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LA 2028 Olympics: Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing in; boxing, weightlifting, modern pentathlon out (for now)

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Skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing, which made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, are slated to remain on the program through the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

The IOC Executive Board announced Thursday the sports recommended for the initial program for the Los Angeles Games, to be confirmed by IOC members in February, listing 28 international federations.

For now, longtime Olympic sports boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon are not on the 2028 program, but there is a pathway for their inclusion. All three are on the 2024 Olympic program.

Boxing and weightlifting have been contested at every Olympics since 1920. Modern pentathlon has been at every Olympics since 1912.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the three sports’ international federations must address separate problem areas to the IOC Executive Board’s satisfaction. If so, they can be added to the 2028 Olympic program as early as 2023.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said.

In June 2019, the IOC stripped AIBA of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. An investigation later found that 2016 Olympic medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

Bach said the International Weightlifting Federation must transition “towards compliance and effective change of culture.” Specifically, it must address the sport’s historical doping problems and “ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping program.”

More than 60 weightlifters who competed between the 2008 and 2012 Olympics later failed drug tests or retests of old samples, including more than 30 original medalists.

Modern pentathlon is in a very different situation. Its federation must determine a replacement for horse riding as one of its five disciplines.

“They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas for safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public,” Bach said.

Last month, the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) said horse riding would be removed to boost the chances of keeping modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympics. A UIPM commission recommended that riding be replaced by a to-be-determined discipline that “enhances the popularity and credibility of modern pentathlon, while preserving its status as the ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge.”

Separately, the sport of equestrian’s place in the Olympics is not in danger.

LA 2028 can also propose adding sports solely for its edition of the Games. That’s how skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing made it to the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo, and now all three are slated to be held at three consecutive Olympics.

Baseball and softball, which were added for Tokyo at the organizers’ request after being voted out of the Olympics after 2008, will not be on the 2024 Paris program but are hoping to return for LA 2028.

“As we look at additional sport recommendations, we will continue to focus on sports that are relevant to Los Angeles, provide an incredible fan experience and contribute to the success of the Games,” LA 2028 chair Casey Wasserman said in a press release. “We want to build on tradition, while progressing the Olympic Games forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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