Ilyin among four Olympic champions to test positive

Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:11pm EDT
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By Brian Oliver

(Reuters) - Four Olympic weightlifting champions from Kazakhstan, including the sport's most celebrated figure Ilya Ilyin, are among 10 lifters to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs at the London 2012 Olympics after their samples were reanalyzed.

Ilyin, the men's 94kg gold medalist, and three women champions, Zulfiya Chinshanlo (53kg), Maiya Maneza (63kg) and Svetlana Podobedova (75kg), failed tests, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said on Wednesday.

The 10 lifters, who include seven London medalists in total and a current world champion and who were expected to be medal contenders at the Rio de Janeiro Games in August, have all been provisionally suspended, the IWF said.

Double Olympic champion Ilyin, 28, tested positive for dehydrochloromethyltestosterone and stanozolol when the International Olympic Committee reanalyzed 2012 samples, the IWF announced.

Ilyin is to weightlifting what Usain Bolt is to athletics. He has nearly 400,000 followers on social media -- far more than anyone else in the sport -- and has been named male weightlifter of the year four times.

A winner of the sport's leading accolade in 2005, 2006, 2014 and 2015, four-time world champion Ilyin is a national hero and also a personal friend of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

His victory in London followed his triumph in Beijing in 2008. A multiple world record holder, he was confident of winning a third gold, at 105kg, in Rio.

Ilyin, who turned vegetarian and took a break from competition after the London Games, set his latest world records at the President's Cup in Moscow in December. He had never failed a test before.   Continued...

Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin poses with his gold medal of the men's 94Kg weightlifting competition at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 4, 2012.                                 REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler