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Weight Lifting, an Original Olympic Sport, May Be Dropped


Even with the sport under scrutiny, top lifters are still getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Shortly after Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan won her fourth European title in April, for example, she tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. It was the second positive of her career.

Another European champion, Dmytro Chumak of Ukraine, who was considered a medal contender at the Tokyo Games, refused to provide a sample and tried to bribe an official from the I.T.A., which took over the testing of weight lifters from a Hungarian antidoping organization. Chumak has been suspended.

The I.T.A. has banned Romania, Thailand, Egypt and Malaysia from competing in Tokyo because of doping violations. Teams from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Vietnam have been allowed only one male and one female competitor at this summer’s Games because they have had more than 20 positive cases between 2008 and 2021.

“You always get people in an elite sport that will cheat,” said Sarah Davies, a British weight lifter who is the chairwoman of the I.W.F.’s Athlete Commission. “I don’t know if we can completely get rid of it. Hopefully, the large scale of doping will disappear.”

Eliminating doping will be difficult because the I.W.F. has been rife with conflicts. Ajan, for example, was a member of the I.O.C. until 2010 and an honorary member until 2020. He was also a founding member of WADA, which gave him access to inside information about doping.

The I.O.C. said it would continue to push for change. Kit McConnell, the committee’s sports director, said his organization had “been very clear about what needs to change in terms of maintaining the changes to the antidoping regulations, continuing the governance reforms, continuing the involvement of athletes in decision making and any substantial changes that are needed within the federation itself.”

Paul Massaro, who helped write the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a law signed last December that empowers U.S. prosecutors to charge American athletes and those with financial connections to the United States in doping cases, questioned whether the Olympic apparatus was serious about reform.



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