The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that Belarusian, Kazakhstani and Russian weightlifters could be banned from this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It follows the announcement here on Wednesday (June 22) that the three countries’ Federations will be suspended for one year in the event that it is proven the countries produced three or more anti-doping rule violations in the combined re-analysis of samples from 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London respectively.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) took the decision on the opening day of its Executive Board meeting here, promising appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that those athletes implicated in the re-analysis process of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - once disqualified by the IOC - shall not participate at Rio 2016.
Final decisions on possible bans will be made after the IOC makes a definitive ruling on the retests.
"The IOC is working hard to finish all disciplinary proceedings in time before Rio, so that the IFs (International Federations) could potentially do their sanctions before the Olympic Games," read an IOC statement sent to Russian news agency TASS.
"The IOC welcomes the strong signal sent by the IWF.
"The Olympic Summit [in Lausanne] emphasised earlier this week that the International Federations are responsible for declaring the technical eligibility of their athletes, in particular in relation to doping issues."
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Kazakhstan's Olympic champion Ilya Ilyin was one of three weightlifting medallists from Beijing 2008 to have failed doping tests following the re-analysis of samples by the IOC.
This came after the news that all four Kazakhstan weightlifting gold medal winners at London 2012, including Ilyin, winner of the under 94 kilograms event, had tested positive following re-analysis of samples from the Games.
Ilyin, one of Kazakhstan's best known sportsmen, failed for anabolic steroids dehydrochloromethyltestosterone and stanozolol in the London 2012 case, while in the Beijing 2008 equivalent has tested positive for the latter of the two.
The IWF also confirmed reports that Russians Marina Shainova, winner of the silver medal in the under 58kg class, and Nadezhda Evstyukhina, bronze medallist in the under 75kg division, had returned adverse analytical findings.
Shainova tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone metabolites and stanozolol metabolites and Evstyukhina failed solely for the former.
Other medal winners implicated in the re-analysis of London 2012 samples were Russia's Apti Aukhadov, who took men's under 85kg silver, and Belarus' under 69kg bronze medallist Maryna Shkermankova.
Two other athletes from Belarus were on the list, Yauheni Zharnasek and Dzina Sazanavets.
The IWF Executive Board also unanimously voted the withdrawal of 11 quota places for Rio 2016, owing to multiple positive cases in the qualification period.
Two quotas have been taken from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, North Korea and Russia, while Belarus have lost one.
In the case of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, the sanctions will only apply if the countries are allowed to compete.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said yesterday that the Russian Weightlifting Federation will challenge the decision affecting them at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Russian team earlier had the maximum quota of 10 - six men and four women.