LONDON, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Cristina Iovu, a weightlifter who has competed for three different countries, is among eight new doping cases announced by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
Iovu, 26, now has a doping violation for all three nations – Moldova, Azerbaijan and Romania – and faces a lifetime ban from the sport.
Iovu, who has been provisionally suspended by the IWF, has been charged not for testing positive, but based on witness statements and/or other documentary evidence provided to the sport’s ruling body.
Alex Padure, secretary general of the Romanian Weightlifting Federation, said his organisation was surprised to hear of the violation but had very little information.
“We are not managing the case ourselves, as Cristina Iovu has appointed lawyers and is managing it herself with them,” he told Reuters.
The Federation had not been told when the alleged violation occurred, and Padure said: “We hope to learn more soon.”
The eight names on the IWF’s new list take to 13 the number of weightlifting doping cases announced in the past week.
Weightlifting’s future on the Olympic programme is under review by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose sports director Kit McConnell praised the IWF last month for “very strong and positive progress” in tackling its doping problems.
The IWF said in a statement it would “not make any further comments on the case until it is closed”.
Iovu was born in Moldova, for whom she won an Olympic bronze medal in London in 2012, in the women’s 53kg category.
Within months she and her Moldovan team mate Iuri Dudoglo had switched nationality to Azerbaijan.
But both were among the 18 Azerbaijan weightlifters who tested positive for steroids at a training camp in 2013. Their performances that year were annulled, they were both banned for two years and never competed for Azerbaijan again.
In 2016 Iovu came up positive in the IOC’s retesting of samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, and forfeited her bronze medal for Moldova.
She made a legal challenge against her four-year suspension and won on a technicality because she had been informed of her first offence after her second one.
Iovu was eligible to compete again at the World Championships in Turkmenistan in November, this time for Romania, with which she has family ties.
Iovu finished fourth in the new 55kg class, helping her multi-sport club CS Dinamo Bucharest to win a national award two weeks ago.
Iovu was among Dinamo athletes described by Carmen Dan, Romania’s Minister of Internal Affairs, as “true ambassadors of Romania”.
Dudoglo was banned for life this week after totting up three offences and Iovu will face a similar punishment if the case against her is proved.
The other cases on the IWF list include a men’s world youth champion and women’s super-heavyweight World Championship bronze medallist from Thailand – Teerapat Chomchuen, aged 17, and Duangsakorn Chaidee, 21.
Thailand, due to host the 2019 IWF World Championships, has had three positives announced within seven months.
If all are upheld as 2018 offences Thailand will fall foul of the IWF’s “three in a year” rule which could result in a suspension of up to four years - though the Thailand Amateur Weightlifting Federation said one of the three positives dated back to August 2017. (Reporting by Brian Oliver, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)