China's star weightlifter Lyu Xiaojun has reiterated his innocence while pledging to cooperate with further investigations after receiving a notice from the International Testing Agency for a doping violation.
Lyu, a three-time Olympic champion in weightlifting, said in a statement posted on his Weibo account on Friday that he's obeyed all anti-doping rules and regulations set by the sport's governing body and anti-doping agencies throughout his career and he's never intentionally used any banned performance-enhancing substances.
"The use of drugs is totally against my ethics and values as an athlete. This is the bottom line that I've set for myself that I will never break," Lyu said in the statement, three days after receiving the ITA notice.
The ITA, a Switzerland-based organization managing anti-doping tests worldwide, reported to Lyu on Dec 20 that a sample collected during an out-of-competition testing mission on 30 Oct from him had returned with an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited peptide hormone erythropoietin (EPO).
EPO is prohibited under the 2022 World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List as peptide hormone (S2), which stimulates red blood cell production and can modify the body's capacity to transport oxygen and, therefore, increase stamina and performance. EPO is prohibited at all times (in- and out-of-competition).
Lyu has been provisionally suspended until the resolution of the matter. He has the right to request the analysis of his B sample for further investigation, according to the ITA.
With two gold medals won in men's 77 kilograms at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics as well as a third from 81kg in Tokyo last year, Lyu is considered one of the world's most decorated weightlifters, who had swept gold at seven of his 10 appearances at the Games and the world championships from 2009 to 2021.
Lyu, at age 37 in July last year, broke the record as the oldest Olympic champion in the sport after he won the 81kg gold at Tokyo 2021.
After the Tokyo Games, Lyu took a long leave from the sport to enjoy his family and only returned to training in August.
As an accomplished athlete having nothing to prove, Lyu said he had no reason whatsoever to use drugs at the twilight of his celebrated career.
"During my 24-year career, I've taken hundreds of tests without a single positive result. I'd been tested eight times over the past four months since I resumed training," he said in the post.
"I've won all the accolades and medals in a clean way. I have no motivations anyway to use any banned substance to ruin my beloved career in its final stage."
"I will cooperate with relevant agencies to figure out the cause (of the positive result) and clear my name."
Pursuant to the International Weightlifting Federation's delegation of its anti-doping program to the ITA, the prosecution of the case is being handled entirely by the ITA. Given that the case is underway, there will be no further comments during the ongoing proceeding, said an ITA statement.