Weightlifting: Thailand to host World Championships despite voluntary ban

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Weightlifting - Final - Women's 58kg - Riocentro - Pavilion 2 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08/08/2016. Sukanya Srisurat (THA) of Thailand competes. REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - Thailand has voluntarily banned itself from all weightlifting, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, because of its recent doping record but will still host the 2019 World Championships, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said on Friday.

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

Any nation with three or more positives in a calendar year faces a ban of up to four years and the IWF has previously suspended nine countries for repeated doping offences.

However, the IWF Executive Board voted to allow Thailand to host the World Championships despite none of their lifters taking part.

"TAWA (Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association) still continues to fulfill its obligation and will deliver the organization of the 2019 IWF World Championships despite the fact that no Thai athletes will be entitled to participate," the IWF said in a statement

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) meets on March 26 to discuss progress in cleaning up the sport and the IWF’s decision to allow Thailand to host the World Championships is expected to be discussed.

Weightlifting is effectively ‘on probation’ at Tokyo 2020, with the IWF having been told to clean up the sport if it is to be on the 2024 Olympic program.

(This story corrects number of weightlifters to eight in paragraph two)

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis