New Delhi: As many as nine countries have been banned from international weightlifting for one year. The names of the countries whose athletes will be deprived of top-level competition are Russia, China, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.
The bans are due to doping as three or more positive samples from a country have resulted in a ban getting imposed. The samples are from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The suspension was met with shock by Russia, which has been accused of widespread state-sponsored doping in recent years. "I don't see the good in this decision and I don't understand the point," Russian team coach Nikola Kolesnikov told R-Sport agency.
Oleg Pissarevski, the men's team coach, added: "They don't have the right to act like this. Why are they trying to kill the roots of weightlifting development in our country?
"We have changed the executives of the federation. The officials who sinned are no longer there. We exist under the rules, we do 60 checks a week. Our guys have prepared themselves very seriously, and now they have tears in their eyes."
Chinese weightlifters will also miss the 2018 Asian Games as a consequence of the doping clampdown. "At the IWF we have made it clear that the incidence of doping in some areas is totally unacceptable and that our members have a responsibility to ensure clean sport in their countries," said IWF president Tamas Ajan. (With PTI inputs)