Olympic leaders vow to investigate new allegations of doping in weightlifting

International Weightlifting Federation president Tamas Ajan attends competition during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
(Goh Chai Hin / AFP/Getty Images)

Olympic leaders want to see the evidence a German broadcaster obtained for a documentary on doping and corruption in the troubled sport of weightlifting.

The ARD television show, which aired Sunday night, contained numerous allegations the International Olympic Committee characterized as “very serious and worrying.”

In a statement released Monday, the IOC said it “will ask ARD for all the documentation in its possession in order to properly address” the matter.

The documentary focused on the International Weightlifting Federation and its president, Tamas Ajan, a Hungarian who is also an honorary IOC member.


“The IWF has to express its shock and dismay at the program as it contains many insinuations, unfounded accusations and distorted information, and it categorically denies the unsubstantiated and very serious accusations made against it by the show,” the federation said in a statement.

ARD alleged irregularities in the way testing samples were collected from athletes, especially by Hungary’s anti-doping agency. An undercover reporter filmed a segment in which a female Thai weightlifter appeared to admit taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 2012 London Olympics. That athlete, Rattikan Gulnoi, received a bronze medal after another lifter was disqualified for doping.

Further allegations related to millions of unaccounted dollars in IWF funds.

Weightlifting had already come under scrutiny with dozens of athletes caught cheating when their stored samples from previous Summer Olympics were retested with updated methods.

IOC officials took exception to ARD’s assertion that most of the documents used in the documentary were already in their possession. They asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to ensure that any cheaters in weightlifting be banned from the upcoming 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

U.S. officials also called for swift action.

“Weightlifting should be about fair sport and fantastic competitive performances, not about suspicion and cheating,” said Phil Andrews, chief executive of USA Weightlifting. “The fight continues to ensure that we can find out who the strongest athletes in the world are to the extent the human body allows, not the extent allowed by pharmaceutical enhancements.”