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Weightlifting: Thailand, Malaysia get Tokyo ban over doping

(Reuters) - Weightlifters from Thailand and Malaysia will miss the Tokyo Olympics after the sport’s governing body said on Saturday it had banned their athletes after a high number of doping cases.

FILE PHOTO: The Olympic rings are pictured at dusk through a steel fence, at the waterfront area of the Odaiba Marine Park, after the postponing of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID 19), in Tokyo, Japan March 25, 2020. Picture taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said in a statement here the two countries' lifters shall not compete at the Tokyo Games, regardless of the change of date.

The Olympics have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and are now scheduled to be held from July 23-Aug. 8 2021.

The Thai and Malaysian federations can appeal the IWF ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days.

The IWF also imposed a $200,000 fine on the Thailand federation (TAWA), which had already voluntarily banned itself from all weightlifting, including the Tokyo Games, because of its recent doping record.

“Half of it is imposed as a penalty, the remainder shall be used by IWF to offset IWF costs already incurred in connection with the TAWA matter and for additional IWF testing of TAWA athletes,” the IWF said.

Eight Thai weightlifters, including two reigning Olympic champions, tested positive for banned substances at last year’s World Championships.

The Thais were caught when the IWF carried out extra tests in Cologne, Germany, on samples taken last November from “target athletes” at the World Championships in Turkmenistan.

The country was also involved in a doping scandal in 2011 when seven teenage girls were banned after testing positive, two of whom are among the six new cases.

The IWF suspended TAWA’s membership status for three years, saying the sanction will be reviewed on or after March 7 2022 if “TAWA can demonstrate it has met pre-defined criteria”.

In January the entire board of Thailand’s federation resigned less than a month after allegations of doping by child weightlifters were made in a German TV documentary.

The Malaysian Weightlifting Federation has been suspended for one year. The sanction will be reviewed and may be lifted as early as Oct. 1 2020, the IWF said.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris