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Weightlifters From Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan Face Rio Ban

The worst offender in a current doping scandal regarding Olympic weightlifting was Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin, who is expected to lose his Beijing and London gold medals.

The International Weightlifting Federation said Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus face being banned from the Rio Olympics in August due to positive drug tests on samples from previous Olympics.

For Russia, it would be the second major sport where its athletes were banned from the games after its track-and-field team was barred last week. Kazakhstan also is a weightlifting superpower led by the reining world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ilya Ilyin,

The federation imposed one-year suspensions on all three countries on June 22, saying it had confirmed three or more doping violations on each of their teams.

It said final decisions on their possible bans from the Olympics in Rio de Janiero will be made after the International Olympic Committee makes a definitive ruling on the retests of samples taken during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The federation also withdrew 11 quota places for 2016 from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, North Korea, and Moldova for multiple doping violations at the 2015 world championships in Houston, which was part of the Olympic qualifying process.

The federation also castigated the European Weightlifting Federation for its recent appointment of Sergei Systsov, president of the Russian federation, as chair of its anti-doping commission, and suggested it reconsider the appointment.

The federation has set up an independent commission to investigate the nations who returned three or more positives from the retesting of 2008 and 2012 samples, which were carried out after advances in science enabled better detection of prohibited substances.

The worst offender was Kazakhstan, where Ilyin is expected to lose his gold medals from Beijing and London. Three Kazakh women who won gold medals in 2012 also tested positive.

The weightlifting federation vowed to toughen its anti-doping policy in the future, threatening to ban nations who had the worst doping record during an Olympic qualifying period. It also said it aims to test every athlete who will be competing in Rio before the games.

The possible Olympic bans for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus would bring to four the number of nations who will not be allowed to compete in Rio.

Bulgaria already was excluded last year, after 11 lifters at a training camp tested positive. Romania and Uzbekistan had already lost one quota place each.

With reporting by AP and Reuters