IOC rejects replacing banned Taiwan weightlifters


TAIPEI, AFP

Two of Taiwan’s female Olympic weightlifting hopefuls were barred from the upcoming Sydney Games for failing dope tests, Taiwan’s Olympic authorities said Wednesday.

“It is Taiwan’s loss. The chances of winning gold medals are gone,” said weightlifting coach Chung Yun-chi.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Tuesday issued the ban on Chen Jui-lien and Wu Mei-yi under international pressure, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) said in a statement.

“The IWF does not agree with the nomination of Chen and Wu to the Olympic Games in Sydney because of the extensive international reaction and pressure against their nomination,” the IWF said in a statement.

Chen, female weightlifting world champion in the 63-kilogram category from 1996-99, tested positive in March for Metandienone, an anabolic steroid.

A testing center in Malaysia in August found another type of anabolic steroid banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the urine of Wu, who won a silver medal in the 69 kilogram category in a 1998 world contest.

The two weightlifters and their coaches were not immediately available for comment.

“The whole matter was given such a big publicity that the participation of the two competitors would certainly ruin the prestige and image of Taiwan and its sportsmen,” the IWF said.

The federation recommended the IOC accept two other Taiwan female lifters for the Games.

The CTOC was expected to nominate Huang Shih-chun and Tsai Hui-wan as replacements.

“It’s our wish that the IOC will agree with the replacement of two female lifters so that the Chinese Taipei weightlifting sport can be duly represented in Sydney Olympic Games,” the CTOC statement quoted its president Huang Ta-chou as saying.

But the IOC rejected replacing the banned athletes.

“The replacement of these athletes is not a legal question, but a matter of principle in the fight against doping in sport,” the IOC said in a letter to CTOC.

“The IOC cannot support the replacement of these athletes for the 2000 Olympic Games from Chinese Taipei,” it said.

Local weightlifting authorities had barred the two athletes from the Games and any competition for two years but lifted the ban on August 18 after discovering flaws in their dope tests.

The athletes were each fined one million Taiwan dollars (32,162 US).

Taiwan will send 56 athletes to the Sydney Olympics, which begin on September 15.