3 Chinese Weightlifters Lose 2008 Olympic Titles for Doping

Cao Lei, of China, holds up her gold medal in the women's 75 kg. of the weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Photo: Andres Leighton / Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Three Chinese women weightlifters have been stripped of Olympic titles for doping at their home 2008 Beijing Games.

China faces a one-year ban from international weightlifting which should be triggered for having three Olympic doping disqualifications in a re-testing program by the IOC, which announced the verdicts on Thursday.

The IOC also took a Beijing bronze medal in women’s shot put from Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus on Thursday. Ostapchuk previously lost her gold medal and Olympic title from the 2012 London Games in a separate doping case.

The four medalists were among eight new disqualifications announced in the latest round of an extensive program using new tests to re-analyze samples stored since the Beijing and London Olympics.

The IOC said all three Chinese weightlifters tested positive for GHRP-2, which stimulates production of growth hormone.

They were: Cao Lei in the 75-kilogram class; Chen Xiexia at 48kg; and Liu Chunhonog at 69kg. Liu also tested positive for sibutramine, a banned stimulant.

Liu was also the 2004 Athens Olympics champion in her weight class, and Cao and Chen were world champions in 2007.

Because of the similar cases, the IOC disciplinary commission urged the International Weightlifting Federation to investigate Chinese team coaches and officials.

“This suggests a possible involvement of the athlete’s entourage in these cases and the IWF is invited to investigate that situation and, if adequate, to take action against relevant people in the athlete’s entourage,” the IOC panel said in its published rulings.

The one-year expulsion for China should be imposed by the IWF. The governing body based in Budapest, Hungary, promised automatic bans if a nation had three athletes test positive in the IOC’s Beijing and London re-tests.

The IWF previously announced the Chinese cases in August.

Doping cases are re-writing the original results from weightlifting in Beijing. Medalists in each of the three women’s weight classes won by the Chinese have already been disqualified and stripped of their results by the IOC in recent weeks.

Currently, lifters from Taiwan, Russia and Kazakhstan could be upgraded to the gold medal, though it is unclear if they also tested positive for doping in the re-analysis.

The four verdicts on Thursday involving non-medalists included two fourth-place athletes who tested positive for anabolic steroids in Beijing: Darya Pchelnik of Belarus in women’s hammer throw, who used turinabol, and Turkish weightlifter Sibel Simsek in the women’s 63kg, who tested positive for turinabol and stanozolol.

Two lifters from the men’s 94kg class also were disqualified for turinabol: Sixth-place Intigam Zairov of Azerbaijan, and 11th-place Norayr Vardanyan of Armenia.

The IOC recorded more than 100 positive tests across numerous sports from the Beijing and London retesting program, and more cases are expected. Most involve athletes in countries from the former Soviet Union.

The re-tests were ordered using new and more sensitive tests to detect steroids and other banned substances being used several weeks instead of several days before a urine sample was given.