China facing weightlifting ban as IOC sanctions more athletes over doping

Chen Xiexia
Chen Xiexia won gold in the women's 48kg category at her home Olympic Games in Beijing

China faces a ban from international weightlifting competition after three of its athletes failed doping tests.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stripped the three of their gold medals, won in Beijing in 2008.

They were among eight athletes sanctioned for doping - the latest to be caught under a retesting programme.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) last year ruled any nations with three or more positive tests would be banned for a year.

The IOC is retesting hundreds of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, using new techniques to uncover cheating that went undetected at the time.

Cao Lei, 33, took gold in the women's 75kg weightlifting event at Beijing, Chen Xiexia, 34, won the women's 48kg and Liu Chunhong, 31, was successful in the women's 69kg. All will now have to return their medals.

The failed retests were uncovered last year but the sanctions - announced by the IOC on Thursday - will clear the way for the IWF to act.

The IWF issued new measures before last year's Rio Olympics to crack down on doping in the sport.

Its executive board decided "national federations confirmed to have produced three or more anti-doping rule violations in the combined re-analysis process of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games shall be suspended for one year".

Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia and Belarus have already been banned by the IWF.

The other five athletes to be sanctioned by the IOC are:

  • Compatriot Darya Pchelnik, 36, who came fourth in the women's hammer throw in 2008.
  • Turkey's Sibel Simsek, 32, who came fourth in the women's 63kg weightlifting in London.
  • Intigam Zairov, 31, of Azerbaijan, who finished sixth in the men's 94kg weightlifting in 2012. He was previously sanctioned for doping at the 2008 Games as part of the same retesting programme.
  • Norayr Vardanyan, 29, of Armenia, who was ranked 11th in the same event at London 2012.

"The protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping are top priorities for the IOC," a spokesperson said,

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