Four Olympic weightlifting gold medalists from Kazakhstan have been provisionally suspended after their doping samples were positive in retests from the 2012 London Games.
The four champions were among 10 athletes from five former Soviet countries whose samples revealed banned substances, the International Weightlifting Federation said late Wednesday.
The Kazakhs were men’s 94-kilogram champion Ilya Ilyin, and women’s gold medalists Zulfiya Chinshanlo (53kg), Maiya Maneza (63kg) and Svetlana Podobedova (75kg).
If all four are disqualified, Kazakhstan would drop from 12th to 23rd in the 2012 medal standings.
Kazakhstan’s Olympic committee, which revealed earlier that its athletes recorded five positives in retests from Beijing and London, said on Thursday that the four lifters’ participation at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics “remains an open question” pending an IWF investigation and the completion of sample retests.
“We will conduct our own investigation of the possible misconduct of our athletes and violation of anti-doping rules,” the committee said, adding that the four lifters have been suspended last Friday.
Three more medalists tested positive: Russia’s Apti Aukhadov, who won silver at 85kgs, Ukraine’s Yuliya Kalina, bronze at 58kgs, and Belarus’ Marina Shkermankova, bronze at 69kgs.
Completing the group of doping positives were Boyanka Kostova from Azerbaijan, and Dzina Sazanavets and Yauheni Zharnasek of Belarus.
The IWF said more information about the IOC retesting of samples taken at the 2008 Beijing Games, where 10 cases were “presumed” positives that required B sample analyses, would be released “as soon as possible.”
The 20 weightlifting cases were among 55 total positives which the IOC has reported so far, including 32 from Beijing and 23 from London. The IOC is retesting samples to catch cheats who might be competing at the Rio Olympics.