Weightlifting: Egyptians back in action after two-year ban

Ghada Abdel-Kader,Saturday 30 Oct 2021

Egyptian weightlifters will return to life after a two-year ban when they take part in the World Championships in December.

Mohamed Ihab
Mohamed Ihab

"The comeback will be in the most important event," Mahmoud Mahgoub, chairman of the interim committee that runs the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation (EWF), told Ahram Online.

The World Championships, which will be held from 7-17 December in Uzbekistan's Tashkent, will mark the first major event for Egypt since 2019.

In September of that year, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) suspended Egypt from international competitions over doping offences committed during the 2016 African Championships and the 2019 All-African Games. The ban took effect on 9 September, 2019 and ended on 9 September, 2021.

The EWF was consequently dissolved and Mahgoub, who is also an executive board member of the IWF, was tasked with leading the national federation until the next elections.

Egypt missed last summer's Tokyo Olympic Games but the country's weightlifters will have a chance to redeem themselves in the World Championships.

The men's team is comprised of Rio 2016 bronze medalist Mohamed Ihab (81kg category), Karim khala (89kg), Ahmed Ashour (96kg) and Ahmed Abdel-Aziz and Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Gabr (+109kg). Promising junior weightlifters Ahmed Megaly (81kg) and Yasser Abdallah Galal (96kg) are also part of the team.

The women's team is composed of Halima Abdel-Azim (+87kg), Neama Said (63kg), Fatma Mohamed (76kg) and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Sara Samir (69kg).

Samir was one of the five Egyptian weightlifters suspended after consecutive positive drug tests for banned substances during the 2016 African Championships and the all-African Games in Morocco 2019.

"The International federation has not taken a final decision until now. We are working on solving her problem soon. We sent samples of her dietary supplements to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for analysing and we are still waiting for the results," Mahgoub said.

Egypt's weightlifters have been holding their training sessions at the Olympic Sports Centre in Cairo's Maadi district since April because of lack of funds, according to Mahgoub, who said he hoped this problem would be solved soon.

Reducing fine

Mahgoub also said the EWF has not yet paid a $200,00 fine imposed on the federation along with the ban.

"There are certain procedures that we have to do to remove all sanctions, including paying the fine," he explained.

"However, we only paid $40,000 because of the difficult circumstances the EWF has gone through. I'm trying to drop the remaining amount."

The EWF has drafted a report detailing its anti-doping efforts and governance reforms.

There are certain requirements the EWF has to meet, including taking a number of samples for doping tests during the suspension's period and conducting educational seminars on anti-doping for weightlifters, administrators and coaches.

"The EWF is going to send a full report to the monitoring committee of the IWF," Mahgoub added.

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