IWF introduces new doping rules amid fight for Olympic future

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has introduced stringent new regulations limiting the number of Olympic places available to the nations with the worst doping track record as it continues to seek to prove to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the sport is reforming.

Under the rules, the IWF states that any nation with 20 or more doping violations from 2008 to 2020 will have just one man and one woman competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus all fall under this banner.

Countries with 10-19 doping violations over the same timeframe will be limited to two men and two women in Tokyo. At least nine more countries, including Bulgaria, Iran and India, fall into that category.

Further sanctions, including Olympic bans, could be issued if there are more doping violations before the Olympic qualifying period ends in April 2020, the IWF said. The system will benefit nations with fewer than 10 violations from 2008-2020 as they can send up to eight qualifiers each, split equally between men and women.

The new policy has been approved by the IOC, which has effectively placed the IWF on probation amid the sport’s doping issues. In December, the IOC said the inclusion of weightlifting in the Olympic programme for Paris 2024 is subject to the IWF further demonstrating that it has fulfilled certain conditions.

A further report on the implementation of the required actions from the IWF is expected by mid-June 2018 to allow the IOC Executive Board to follow-up in its July 2018 meeting. Commenting on the new system, USA Weightlifting chief executive Phil Andrews told the Reuters news agency: “This is a monumental step forward for weightlifting and for athletes around the world. This new qualification system is a huge step for clean sport.”

Christian Baumgartner, president of Germany’s national federation and an outspoken critic of the “doping culture” prevalent in many countries, added: “The old system was abused by some federations but there is a new perspective with these new conditions, which provide a real chance for a level playing field.”

IWF director general Attila Adamfi said: “Naturally not everybody is happy but everybody understands that the sport is in a difficult situation where hard decisions are necessary for our future.”