Romela Begaj's doping failure caused outcry in Albania ©Getty Images

The 2018 European Weightlifting Championships will be moved to another country at 10 weeks notice or postponed to a later date after Albania said it was unable to host the event.

The Albanian Weightlifting Federation's President resigned and the entire Executive Board followed him as a direct result of the public and media reaction to the latest doping positive by an Albanian weightlifter.

Romela Begaj tested positive for stanozolol at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Anaheim, California in December, in the very week when the IWF was trying to persuade the International Olympic Committee to keep the sport on the Olympic programme beyond 2020.

While the IOC has put the sport "on probation" Begaj is unlikely to play any further part in it.

This was her second positive for stanozolol, the first having come at the 2014 IWF World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan where, as in Anaheim, she "won" a snatch gold medal.

"There was such a strong reaction by the public, by the media in Albania, that everybody resigned," said Hasan Akkus, general secretary of the European Weightlifting Federation.

"As of today Albania doesn't have a federation - there is nobody to organise the European Championships.

"It is an unexpected and very serious problem for the EWF and our member federations."

Elex Gjoza, the outgoing Albanian Federation President, is an ex-officio member of the EWF Executive Board.

Albania has twice been fined by the IWF in recent years for having three or more positives in a calendar year.

Agron Skender Haxhihyseni, Albania's general secretary, said it was "impossible" for Tirana to remain as host of the Championships, due to run from March 26 until April 1, and it is believed that his view was confirmed by Albania's Sports Minister at a meeting on Monday. 

Romania and Georgia are the only realistic contenders to take on the Championships at such short notice, though other bidders could feasibly emerge if there is a change of date.

Albanian weightlifting has been plunged into crisis ©Getty Images
Albanian weightlifting has been plunged into crisis ©Getty Images

"Obviously it is very difficult, but if we can help European weightlifting in any way, we will try to do it," said Alex Padure, secretary general of the Romanian Federation.

"This is an emergency situation. 

"I have heard that some nations have already bought their flight tickets to Tirana."

Georgia's national federation said it was "due to hold a meeting with key persons on Tuesday" to discuss the possibility of the nation hosting the Championships.

Wherever the Championships end up, it will be a fourth port of call. 

Antalya in Turkey was the original host but had to withdraw because of a one-year suspension imposed on the Turks by the IWF for having three positives in the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

Halmstadt in Sweden was then lined up as the host city, but could not take on the organisation at six months notice. 

Tirana stepped in but has now stepped out again, leaving the way open for Romania, Georgia or another nation later in the year.

Turkey is one of seven leading nations who will miss the European Championships because of their suspension for retest positives, the others being Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Armenia.

Entries for the Championships are due to open on February 1, with final updates on February 21, EWF meetings and its Congress from March 23 to 25 and the competition starting on Monday, March 26.

"Our first and foremost priority is to organise the competition on these times," said Akkus.