Lyu Xiaojun, Olympic champion weightlifter, banned for EPO

Lu Xiaojun

Lyu Xiaojun, a two-time Olympic champion weightlifter from China, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO and has been provisionally suspended until the resolution of his case.

Lyu, a 38-year-old who took gold at the London and Tokyo Games and silver in Rio, tested positive from an Oct. 30 sample, according to the International Testing Agency. Lyu can request a backup B sample be tested.

The lifter said in a statement that he was “greatly shocked” by the positive test, according to Xinhua News Agency.

“In my 24 years of weightlifting career, I have competed in numerous major events and have been tested hundreds of times, without any ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violations),” Lyu said, according to Xinhua. “I have neither any motive nor any reason to use any prohibited substance or prohibited method in the final phase of my beloved weightlifting career. I will cooperate with related organizations for investigation, to find out the real cause of this issue, and to prove my innocence.

“As a senior athlete, I have always strictly abided by the anti-doping policies and regulations of the International Weightlifting Federation, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the China Anti-Doping Agency. I believe that the value of sports lies in fair play and I resolutely oppose the use of any prohibited substance or prohibited method and any other kind of cheating, which is also the bottom line I have always set for myself. The use of a prohibited substance or prohibited method is completely against my values and goes against the anti-doping education I have received.”

Lyu took gold at seven of his 10 appearances between the Olympics and world championships from 2009 through 2021 competing at either 77kg or 81kg. He is the world’s most decorated weightlifter across all categories in that time span.

In the outlier years, he earned silver at the 2010 World Championships, was leading the 2015 Worlds after the snatch before failing on all three clean and jerk attempts and took silver at the 2016 Rio Games behind Kazakhstan’s Nijat Rahimov, who this past March had his gold medal stripped for urine swapping. The IOC has not reallocated medals from the 2016 Olympic event, but could still do so.

In Tokyo, he became the oldest Olympic weightlifting champion in history, according to American Harrison Maurus took fourth in the event that Lyu won, just missing becoming the first American man to win an Olympic weightlifting medal since 1984.

Lyu did not compete at worlds earlier this month, when countryman Li Dayin won the 81kg title.

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Former weightlifting federation president gets life ban

Tamas Ajan Weightlifting

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


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 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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