(Reuters) - Egypt has been banned from participating in the weightlifting world championships for doping offences, state media said on Tuesday, and the Egyptian Olympic Committee fears the suspension could extend to the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
A number of Egyptian weightlifters were included in the entry list for the world championships, which begin in Thailand on Wednesday, but all of them were missing from the competition's start book released on the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) website here earlier on Tuesday.
State-run Al-Ahram quoted the secretary-general of Egypt’s Olympic committee as saying the country had not yet been officially notified about the ban but that it could impact Egypt’s participation at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The IWF and Egyptian Weightlifting Federation (EWF) did not respond to emails and calls from Reuters seeking comment.
“We have not received any official letter regarding this case,” secretary-general Sherif El-Erian told Al-Ahram. “We heard that the ban is for two years and this means that we will not be able to participate in the Olympics.
“Once we receive an official letter regarding the ban, we will do our best to solve the crisis... If the ban is confirmed for two years, a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal would be the only hope for appearing in the coming Olympics.”
The IWF world championships is the most important qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.
Egypt has two strong medal contenders for the Summer Games in Mohamed Ehab and Sara Ahmed, who both won bronze in their respective categories at Rio 2016.
Olympic news website insidethegames reported on Tuesday that EWF President Kamal Mahmoud Mahgoub said Egypt would appeal against the ban.
“I hope my lifters can at least participate in the last period of the qualification to the Olympics because now they have already participated in the first and second periods,” Mahgoub told insidethegames.
“There remains only one period, the last one, starting from November until April.”
Reuters reported in 2017 that five Egyptian teenagers, including two girls aged 14, and two 20-year-olds, failed doping tests at the African Youth and Junior Championships in Cairo in December 2016.
Under IWF rules, any country returning three or more positive tests within a year faces a range of sanctions and in serious cases can be suspended from the sport.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis