Weightlifting Might Leave The Olympics for Good
If the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) fails to fully address its long-standing issues regarding doping and bribery, weightlifting might have to say goodbye to the Olympic Games.
The first modern Olympic Games, which took place in Athens in 1896, featured only nine sports, one of which was weightlifting. At first, all athletes competed in the same categories regardless of their weight until 1920, when they were grouped by weight for the first time.
There are two movements in which athletes lift the weight: the “snatch” and the “clean and jerk.” In the snatch, they lift the barbell from the floor to above their head in just one move. The clean and jerk includes two stages, as the barbell is lifted to the chest and then over the head.
Although it has a long history at the Olympics, the prognosis is not so bright for weightlifting. After decades of various issues, including doping, bribery, and corruption in the sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken serious action threatening to eject weightlifting from the Games. If the IWF doesn’t implement rigorous drug testing procedures and reforms, these could be the last Olympics for weightlifters.
Past controversies have caused a reduction in the number of lifters allowed to compete in the Games. During the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, there were 260 lifters, which was reduced to 196 athletes in Tokyo 2020. The numbers will be cut again to 120 ahead of the 2024 Games in Paris.
All major UK sports betting sites offer their users a chance to bet on a range of weightlifting categories. However, that might change in the future if the sport gets dropped from the Olympic program, as that would result in a cut of millions of dollars in investment in the sport.
Weightlifting isn’t the only sport to face multiple investigations and restrictions, but it has been marred by a far more severe level of corruption than other sports.
The chief executive of USA Weightlifting, Phil Andrews, commented on recent events, saying: “If we don’t go far enough in our constitutional reform, then we won’t be part of the Olympic Games… The threat is real. The IOC is watching.”
The ITA already banned Thailand, Egypt, Romania, and Malaysia from competing in Tokyo 2020 because of doping violations. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Vietnam were allowed to have only one male and one female competitor at the Games, as they had more than 20 positive doping cases from 2008 to 2021.
Eliminating doping will be difficult, and it seems like lots of clean athletes will be hurt along the way because of the new restrictions.
Sarah Davies, a British weightlifter and the IWF’s Athlete Commission chairwoman, shared a bit of optimism: “You always get people in an elite sport that will cheat… I don’t know if we can completely get rid of it. Hopefully, the large scale of doping will disappear.”