Two In-Competition Positives Mar Weightlifting

Athens – Amid great confusion, the two in-competition positive drug tests in weightlifting at the Athens Olympics, already unfortunate, have grown into something much larger.

It is no secret that weightlifting was one of the first sports to discover that anabolic steroids could enhance athletic performance, and when the drugs were banned, some lifters continued to use them and got caught, reinforcing the link between weightlifting and steroids, even as their abuse in other sports has been widely documented.

Adding greatly to the confusion surrounding the weightlifting positives in Athens is the intermingling of pre-competition and in-competition drug tests that have been reported. The International Weightlifting Federation, in a move heralded by IOC president Jacques Rogge, pretests all competitors less than a week before they are to lift and if they test positive, they cannot compete. No other sport has taken this initiative to both crack down on drug use and spare itself the embarrassment of a positive drug test in Olympic competition. WADA is also conducting pre-competition drug tests. Although an official count has not been announced, it is estimated that the IWF has conducted over 150 pre-competition drug tests, with five positive results.

Two women weightlifters—Aye Khine Nan (Myanmar) and Sanamacha Chanu (India)—tested positive in competition, Nan reportedly for steroids and Chanu for diuretics. Both lifters had placed fourth in their respective classes.

Yesterday, rumors started to fly when Reuters reportedly broke the story that the Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, who got the bronze medal in the men's 62-kg category, had tested positive, although there has been no official word yet and the results of the B-sample test have not been announced. A high-level official close to the situation said that the Sampanis case is not black and white, because it involves his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, and the case is said be under IOC review at the moment.

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