File Photo: Egypt's Sara Ahmed competes during the Women's 69kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. (Photo: AFP)
Just when preparations for the Olympics got underway, Egypt received the worst sporting news of the year -- the country's weightlifters, some of whom were big favourites to win medals, were banned from taking part in the Tokyo Games.
Mohamed Ihab and Sara Samir, winners of bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics, were expected to continue from where they left off in Rio de Janeiro but they will now have to watch the 2020 edition at home after Egypt was hit by a stunning ban.
On 18 September, Egypt's Olympics Committee revealed that the country was banned from participating in all activities of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for two years.
The ban relates to an incident in 2016 when seven Egyptian players failed doping tests during the Youth African Championships in Cairo.
In the wake of the ban, Egypt's participation in the Olympics was thrown into doubt, but the bad news was confirmed after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned down the country's appeal in December.
"What happened is normal as we already have players who failed in doping tests and that has happened with other countries like china, Bulgaria and Russia," Egyptian Olympic committee secretary-general Sherif El-Erian told Ahram Online after the ban.
"The rules are clear and the attempts of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation president to overturn the fine or the suspension through his position in the international federation were the reasons behind the delay from 2016.
"Doping examinations are performed on a permanent basis, but there isn't any country that can 100% avoid doping problems."
Following the ban, Egypt's most decorated weightlifter of all time Ihab announced his retirement after losing hope to appear in the Olympics.
"I've been preparing for the Olympics the past four years. This was my hope to clinch another Olympic medal for my country, but it's over," the 30-year-old said.
"This is not an option. I will not play for any country other than Egypt.
"The only chance is to play under the Olympic flag, but I've been told that this will not happen, as the whole country is suspended from participation, not only the Weightlifting Federation."
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