Report: 18 Weightlifters Caught Violating Anti-Doping Policy in 2023

The 2024 Olympics begin in about two months. Paris will host 120 weightlifters — the fewest in decades — as a downstream consequence of the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) years-long negligence of policing corruption and performance-enhancing drug abuse.

However, things seem to be looking up for the IWF: On May 30, 2024, the organization published a report detailing its efforts, in tandem with the International Testing Agency (ITA), in curtailing PED use throughout 2023.

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We’re going to touch on the most important aspects of the IWF & ITA reporting and help you understand how it has affected weightlifting’s status as an international sport, plus what the future holds for the best weightlifters in the world.

Steroid Abuse in Weightlifting: 2023

According to the IWF, it and the ITA are proud of the progress made throughout 2023 in monitoring a sport whose athletes have nakedly abused steroids to increase strength in years past.

3,192 individual samples were collected from internationally competitive weightlifters across 109 countries in 2023.

Of those tests, 1,766 were collected during IWF weightlifting meets, while 1,426 tests were conducted on athletes outside of competitive venues.

2,403 urine tests were conducted, while the ITA sampled 789 athletes’ blood.

The IWF and ITA found 18 samples that constituted an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).

Notably, there was a nearly even split in tests collected from men and women athletes: 52 and 48 percent, respectively. 

An ADRV refers to any PED-related infraction, obstruction of the sample-taking process, or even an athlete’s failure to notify the IWF or ITA of their whereabouts, according to official IWF policy documents.

According to the same report issued one year prior, the IWF and ITA collected 3,555 samples in 2022 — that year’s World Weightlifting Championships in Bogota, Colombia, marked the opening of the Paris qualification period — and issued 65 ADRVs.

From 2022 to 2023, the number of ADRVs issued by the IWF and ITA fell roughly 72 percent. However, the organizations did conduct fewer tests overall.

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Why It Matters

The IWF’s regulatory advancements come at a critical moment for weightlifting’s reputation as an Olympic event. Following a series of developments in 2020 and 2021, including the publication of a now-famous documentary on the sport’s drug issues plus the resignation of former IWF President Tamas Ajan, weightlifting was placed on conditional status as a Games event.

Only two short years later, and under the guidance of new IWF President Mohammed Jalood, the sport had made enough progress to be ratified as an Olympic event at both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Credit: Jessie Johnson / @barbellstories

One hundred and twenty weightlifters, in teams of up to six from individual countries, will battle for gold in Paris this August. Should the IWF and ITA continue their momentum toward “clean sport,” weightlifting fans are likely to see their sport expand its presence on the Olympic stage in 2028 after years of marginalization.

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Team China’s 2024 Olympics Weightlifting Roster Revealed

Featured Image: Jessie Johnson / @barbellstories

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