Weightlifting feels the strain as an Olympic sport

The first medal to change hands at the Rio Games for doping has placed further doubt on weightlifting’s credibility as an Olympic sport.

Weightlifting feels the strain as an Olympic sport

Kyrgyzstan’s Izzat Artykov tested positive for the stimulant strychnine, which is toxic in high doses, and the 22-year-old loses his bronze medal in the 69kg category.

His medal will go to Colombia’s Luis Javier Mosquera instead, but it is the International Weightlifting Federation that has the biggest problems.

The entire Bulgarian team were banned for widespread doping at last year’s European Championships and Russia’s team were prevented from competing in Rio for bringing the sport into disrepute with their much-publicised state-run doping programme.

Belarus and Kazakhstan are also set to be given one-year bans for the number of their athletes caught in the re-testing of samples from the last two Olympics, with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Turkey likely to join them.

These bans would already be in place if the International Olympic Committee had processed the retesting cases from 2008 and 2012 quickly enough but time ran out before the Rio Games and these countries have been allowed to compete and win medals — Kazakhstan winning five medals, including a gold.

The entire Olympic programme is reviewed after a Games and the IWF is now facing a huge battle to convince the IOC that it has got a handle on doping. If it cannot, a sport that has been an ever-present since 1920 could be thrown out.

Back on track, Elaine Thompson maintained Jamaica’s incredible stranglehold on Olympic sprinting as when she added the 200m gold to the 100m title she collected earlier at the Rio Games.

While the days of the US dominating sprinting are long gone, they can at least take some consolation from their own special sweep on Wednesday.

Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin completed an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the 100m hurdles — the first gold on the track at the Rio Games for the US.

The US also took gold and silver in a fantastic long jump final through Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

Thompson faced stiff opposition, particularly in the shape of Dafne Schippers, but after running a terrific bend she maintained her form to hold off the Dutchwoman and crossed the line in a season-leading 21.78.

Thompson become the first woman to win both the 100m and 200m since American Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.

Schippers took silver and American Tori Bowie added a bronze to her silver from the 100.

There was no disputing the depth of 100m hurdles talent on the US team, with world record holder Kendra Harrison and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper failing to make the cut, but to take all three medals was more than they could have hoped for.

In the long jump Bartoletta soared to a personal best 7.17m with her fifth jump to take gold, with defending champion Reese leaving it even later with a last-attempt 7.15m to snatch silver ahead of Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s iron grip on the men’s 3000m steeplechase continued as 21-year-old Conseslus Kipruto triumphed in an Olympic record eight minutes 3.28 seconds.

Evan Jager took silver for the US while double Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi finished third, but was disqualified for stepping out of his lane. The bronze went instead to France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad.

Hot favourite Caster Semenya qualified for the 800m semi-finals with ease and was immediately plunged into a new gender controversy over her reported hyperandrogeny.

Frenchwoman Justine Fedronic, who failed to advance from the heats, said that while she had sympathy for her rival’s situation, her high testosterone levels meant it was not a fair fight. “When you line up against someone like that, you know it’s going to be a completely different ball game,” said Fedronic.

“I do feel for her. She is just trying to train and compete just like the rest of us so that is really not fair to her. But it is not fair for others too. So I don’t know what the solution is.”

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