Egypt's weightlifting athletes banned from 2019 World Championships over old doping case

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Tuesday 17 Sep 2019

Egypt's Weightlifting star Mohamed Ihab spoke to Ahram Online from the national team camp in Azerbaijan after the sudden ban from the 2019 IWF World Championships

Mohamed Ihab
File photo: Mohamed Ihab, of Egypt, celebrates after a lift. Ihab is among the squad that was supposed to participate in the 2019 IWF World Championships (Photo: AP)

Egypt has been banned from participating in the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships, which will kick off on Wednesday in Pattaya, over doping cases that date back to 2016, a source told Ahram Online.

The decision is reportedly over seven Egyptian players who failed doping tests during the 2016 Youth African Championships, which was held in Cairo.

In a meeting with Egyptian Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy on Tuesday morning, members of the Olympic committee said that no action will be taken until the committee is officially notified about the ban.

"We have not received any official letter regarding this case. We have directly contacted the Egyptian weightlifting president in Azerbaijan," secretary-general of the Olympic committee Sherif El-Erian told Ahram Online.

"The general assembly of the international federation was held yesterday and we did not know that the 2016 [doping] case was still open. 

"Egypt was found guilty by a committee that was formed by the international federation and the committee found that Egypt must be excluded from the World Championships. 

"We heard that the ban is for two years and this means that we will not be able to participate in the Olympics. This happened recently with big countries like China, Russia and Bulgaria.

"Once we receive an official letter regarding the ban, we will do our best to solve the crisis, especially since banning the current team is not fair as they recently won the African tournament and have passed doping tests. 

"If the ban is confirmed for two years, the CAS appeal would be the only hope for appearing in the coming Olympics," El-Erian said.

Egypt's national team, including stars Mohamed Ihab and Sara Samir, was holding a training camp in Azerbaijan, but the players will return home after Egypt's exclusion from the participating squads.

"The starting lists were announced on Tuesday and we were surprised to find that we were excluded. We will return to Egypt," Egyptian weightlifting star Mohamed Ihab told Ahram Online from the camp Azerbaijan.

Egypt lodged an appeal after the seven players' suspension in 2017 to avoid a ban from the competition and keep punishments limited to individuals, but no concrete decision was taken regarding the appeal.

After the recent ban, Egypt's participation in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has come in doubt since bans in doping cases usually involve a two-year suspension.

Despite the fact that no official announcement has been made yet by IWF, or even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regarding Egypt, the country's weightlifting federation is expected to lodge an appeal against the ban within a week.

"There will be a lawyer in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to solve the problem of appearing in the Tokyo Olympics," added the 29-year-old Ihab, who won the bronze medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"Our exclusion from the World Championships won't affect our participation in the Olympics, but on the condition that we return to the international scene and continue the coming international tournaments," he continued.

When asked if there had been any mismanagement that may have caused the ban directly before the world tournament, Ihab said that he knows nothing about what goes on behind the scenes.

"We hope the problem will be solved soon," he said.

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