Asian Games: Two weightlifters disqualified

DOPING: Yesterday's development marked the third confirmed case of drug use in just two days, after a female weightlifter from Myanmar was disqualified on Saturday


Mon, Dec 11, 2006 - Page 20

Two Uzbekistan weightlifters tested positive for banned substances and were disqualified from the Asian Games, officials said yesterday, a day after announcing the games' first doping case in the same sport.

Elmira Ramileva, who placed fifth in the women's 69kg division, tested positive to the anabolic steroid stanozolol in a test taken last Monday.

Alexander Urinov, who was seventh in the men's 105kg class, returned positive for cannabis in a Dec. 3 sample.

Both athletes admitted to taking the substances and waived their right to a test on their B samples, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director-general Husain Al Musallam said.

"All the medalists in these two events were tested and no [other] positive case has been reported," Al Musallam said.

He announced on Saturday that Than Kyi Kyi, a female weightlifter from Myanmar, had tested positive for a banned diuretic.

Than, a former world championships gold medalist who placed fourth in the 48kg division, also waived her right to have a B sample analyzed after her initial urine sample on Dec. 2 showed elevated traces of furosemide. Diuretics can be used to mask steroids.

OCA Medical Committee member Jegathesan Manikavasagam said the stanozolol could have been in Ramileva's system for several weeks to a month, while the cannabis from Urinov's test was probably only a couple of days old.

The most famous doping case involving stanozolol was former 100m world record holder Ben Johnson, who was stripped of his gold medal after testing positive at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

Al Musallam said all athletes in Doha could be subject to random and in-competition testing, according to international rules.

All cases have been referred to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for further action. Than and Ramileva faced two-year bans from competition.

Manikavasagam said the Uzbekistan weightlifting delegation could face sanctions if it returned further positive doping tests, only depending on the response from the IWF. There were 14 weight divisions conducted over five days of competition. The doping results are back in for the first three days.

Abdulwahab Al Musleh, organizing committee doping control manager, said around 750 of the anticipated 1200 doping tests had been conducted by Saturday night.

Of these, 50 were blood tests and the rest were urine tests.

"We test all the gold medalists, in some sports we test bronze and silver as well, and in other sports we may test second and third and a random selection from the rest," Al Musleh said.

Despite persistent bad publicity, weightlifting continues to be plagued by doping offenses.

India was suspended from international weightlifting competitions, for the second time in less than two years, after four of its weightlifters failed doping tests during, and just ahead of, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March.

India's weightlifting team turned down the opportunity to attend the Asian Games, despite the offer of a dispensation in return for paying a US$50,000 fine.

Balbir Singh Bhatia, Indian weightlifting federation general secretary, last month said the decision to keep the lifters at home was because they were "out of shape."

Two-time Olympic heavyweight champion Hossein Rezazadeh, dubbed the "Iranian Hercules," won weightlifting gold last Wednesday but was only allowed into competition after the Iranian federation paid a fine of US$400,000 to the IWF in lieu of suspension for all of its athletes following adverse findings against some of their teammates.

The World Anti-Doping Agency tested 11 Iranian weightlifters on Sept. 10 in advance of the world championships in the Dominican Republic. Nine tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone.

Eight of the nine weightlifters were suspended for two years and a ninth banned for life -- they did not compete at Doha.

Musallam has rejected suggestions that the latest doping scandal could spell the end of weightlifting as an Asian Games event.

"The weightlifting is on the Asian Games program and the Olympic Games program ... we can't punish all athletes worldwide because of an individual's act," he said on Saturday.