Doping: Three Chinese weightlifters lose Olympic gold medals

Kristopher Nichols
January 14, 2017

Three of China's dominant weightlifting team from the Beijing Olympics have been caught doping by the International Olympic Committee's programme of retesting samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games.

Cao Lei (women's 75kg), Chen Xiexia (women's 48kg), and Liu Chunhong (women's 69kg) have all been stripped of their gold medals from Beijing 2008 for testing positive for doping. She has already been stripped of the gold medal she won in London and the world title she won in 2005, so this is her third fail.

Ilya Ilin from Kazakhstan, gold medalist in men's 94kg weightlifting, was stripped of gold (with no new victor yet announced).

Chunhong was also the gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

It's not unusual - in fact it's par for the course in the modern age - for Olympics medal standings to change post-Games.

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The four medalists were among eight new disqualifications announced in the latest round of an extensive program using new tests to re-analyze samples stored since the Beijing and London Olympics.

It leaves China facing a ban from global competition for a year, a sanction brought in by the sport's governing body the IWF last year to crack down on doping that is rife in weightlifting.

Its executive board decided that "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".

While Russia is the nation with the most cases, weightlifting is the sport with the most, racking up 38 separate cases.

Three non-medal weightlifters from the London Games - Sibel Simsek of Turkey, Intigam Zairov of Azerbaijan, and Armenia's Norayr Vardanyan - were also disqualified.

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