Muhammad Azroy Hazalwafie Izhar Ahmad of Malaysia competes during the men's 56kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, April 5, 2018. (Photos: VCG)
Weightlifters from Thailand and Malaysia will miss the Tokyo Olympic Games after the sport's governing body said on Saturday it had banned their athletes after a high number of doping cases.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said in a statement that lifters from the two countries shall not compete at the Tokyo Games, regardless of the change of date.
The Olympics have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and are now scheduled to be held from July 23–August 8, 2021.
The Thai and Malaysian federations can appeal the IWF ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days.
The IWF also imposed a 200,000-U.S.-dollar (153,000 British pounds) fine on the Thailand Weightlifting Association (TAWA), which had already voluntarily banned itself from all weightlifting, including the Tokyo Games, because of its recent doping record. The IWF said:
"Half of it is imposed as a penalty, the remainder shall be used by IWF to offset IWF costs already incurred in connection with the TAWA matter and for additional IWF testing of TAWA athletes."
Sopita Tanasan of Thailand competes in the women's 48kg weightlifting at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 6, 2016.
The IWF suspended TAWA's membership status for three years, saying the sanction will be reviewed on or after March 7, 2022 if "TAWA can demonstrate it has met pre-defined criteria."
The Malaysian Weightlifting Federation has been suspended for one year. The sanction will be reviewed and may be lifted as early as October 1, 2020, the IWF said.
Eight Thai weightlifters, including two reigning Olympic champions, tested positive for banned substances at last year's world championships.
The Thais were caught when the IWF carried out extra tests in Cologne, Germany, on samples taken last November from "target athletes" at the world Championships in Turkmenistan.
Thailand was also involved in a doping scandal in 2011 when seven teenage girls were banned after testing positive, two of whom are among the six new cases.
In January, the entire board of Thailand's association resigned less than a month after allegations of doping by teenager weightlifters were made in a German TV documentary.