RIO DE JANEIRO: With weightlifting once again hit by a doping scandal, China won two Olympic gold medals in the sport on Tuesday.
Deng Wei and Shi Zhiyong won their events hours after one of the top female lifters, Lin Tzu-Chi of Taiwan, was forced to withdraw from the competition because of an abnormal doping test.
Deng won the women’s 63-kilogram category, setting a world record total of 262 kilograms. The previous record holder was Lin.
“Because this is my first Olympic Games, I was quite nervous,” Deng said. “But I set my goal to break the world record before coming to Rio, so this is actually within my expectations.”
Later in the day, Shi continued China’s success by winning the men’s 69kg class.
In addition to Lin’s withdrawal, the International Olympic Committee disqualified two lifters from past Olympics for positive retests of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games. One is from Turkey and the other from Armenia, but neither won a medal.
That followed months of scandals in the sport which depleted the field for the women’s 63kg. Defending champion Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan missed the Olympics after failing a drug test, while two of the top four from last year’s world championships were also out for doping-related reasons.
Deng took advantage, hoisting 147 kilograms in the clean and jerk and 115 in the snatch for her world-record total of 262. Deng’s clean and jerk lift also broke her own world record by 1 kilo.
Choe Hyo Sim of North Korea took silver and Karina Goricheva of Kazakhstan earned bronze.
“I am going to try harder to win gold next time,” Choe said. “I am not happy with the result. I could have tried much harder.”
Because of the doping situation in the sport, fourth-place finisher Mercedes Isabel Perez of Colombia said she might yet win a medal.
“We have to wait for the doping tests,” Perez said, chuckling. “Who knows? Being fourth is the best because if something happens, I’ll just climb on that podium.”
Shi won the other gold for China by lifting 162 kilos in the snatch and 190 in the clean and jerk for a total of 352.
Shi, who shares his name with another Olympic champion Chinese weightlifter, said the older Shi Zhiyong pushed him on to victory.
“‘You must deserve this name, respect this name,'” Shi said he was told. “That encouraged me.”
Daniyar Ismayilov of Turkey, who used to represent Turkmenistan, won silver and said he had been inspired by mass protests which helped to prevent a military coup in his country last month.
“I felt they were fighting more than me,” he said of the protesters. “It really motivated me more.”
Izzat Artykov of Kyrgyzstan won bronze.
Weightlifting has been dogged by steroid use for more than 50 years, but better testing techniques have meant bans for more star athletes.
Two of the sport’s superpowers, Russia and Bulgaria, were kicked out of weightlifting at the Rio de Janeiro Games after repeated doping cases. The International Weightlifting Federation had threatened to ban Kazakhstan and Belarus, too, but failed because various doping cases were not processed in time for the Olympics.
Results from the past are also in danger because of advances in testing.
Besides Maneza’s gold, Kazakhstan stands to lose four more Olympic victories after failing retests of samples from Beijing and London, including two by Ilya Ilyin, one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Nine Russians from the 2008 and 2012 Games have also failed retesting, all for oral turinabol, a relic of the East German state doping program of the Cold War era.