BANGKOK – Thailand has volunteered to serve a ban from next year’s Olympic weightlifting over a string of doping cases, removing a traditional power in the sport from contention.
The Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association will not send its athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo or any other international competition after its weightlifters have been tested positive for doping.
“Thai athletes will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, including the qualification event for Tokyo 2020,” the association said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday.
The decision followed the eight positive tests of its weightlifters during the IWF World Championships in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from Nov 2-10. The association did not name the athletes in the statement, but an earlier Reuters report said the tests involved six Thais. The International Weightlifting Federation named them as Duanganksnorn Chaidee, Teerapat Chomchuen, Sopita Tanasan, Sukanya Srisurat, Thunya Sukcharoen and Chitchanok Pulsabsakul. All but Teerapat are female.
The Thais were caught when the IWF carried out extra tests in Cologne, Germany, on samples taken last November from “target athletes” at the competition in Turkmenistan.
Sukanya and Chitchanok were also caught up in the 2011 scandal and suspended for two years.
Even before the decision to opt out of the Olympics next year was announced, Thailand could be banned from the event under a rule that any nation with three or more positives in a calendar year faces a ban of up to four years.
The association said in the statement a committee had been set up to look into the findings of the IWF. All Thai weightlifters have to go through tests before taking part in international events under the doping-free policy, it said, adding the tests on the Thais before they left for Turkmenistan showed no positive results.
Thailand will host the IWF World Championships in Pattaya from Sept 18-19. The association confirmed its intention to organise the competition although no Thais will take part in it.
“Thai athletes will not participate in any international events and championships from now on until the situation is resolved,” it said.
Source: ESPN, Bangkok Post, Reuters