Two doping positives for weightlifters from Thailand that were announced this week could have far-reaching consequences for the nation due to host the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships next September.
Under the IWF’s new anti-doping policy, any nation with three or more positives within a calendar year is liable to a range of punishments including a suspension “for a period of up to four years”.
Thailand has had three positives announced by the IWF in seven months, all since the new anti-doping policy came into effect.
But Boossaba Yodbangtoey, president of the Thailand Amateur Weightlifting Association, believes it will be clear to host the World Championships because one of those three violations took place in 2017 and was not listed until nine months later.
Regardless of Thailand’s situation, the positives of two of its top male and female lifters, Teerapat Chomchuen and Duangaksorn Chaidee, are likely to lead to a loss of quota places for Tokyo 2020.
Any nation with 10 or more positives in the period stretching back to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games can send no more than four athletes - two men and two women - to Tokyo, compared to the maximum of eight.
Those with 20 or more in the 10-year period can send only one male and one female.
This week’s positives, if confirmed, will take Thailand beyond 10.
On the 2019 World Championships situation, Boossaba said only two positives would count in 2018, and two in 2017. “Thailand will be able to host the 2019 IWF World Championships,” she said.
Chomchuen and Chaidee tested positive at the 2018 World Championships in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in November, said Boossaba, who was surprised because both had been clean when tested at national level recently.
Witoon Mingmoon, the lifter who was listed in May, actually tested positive at the South-East Asia Games in August, 2017, she said.
Mingmoon, who was ninth in the men’s 56 kilograms event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, is waiting to hear from the IWF regarding his suspension.
Another 2017 case, Supattra Kaewkhong, is being heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Kaewkhong came up positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition test.
“Thailand fights against doping, we test our athletes but surprisingly there were positives this year,” said Boossaba.
“Now we must concentrate more and more on anti-doping.”
Chomchuen, 17, was Asian and World youth champion in the men’s 50kg in 2017, while 21-year-old Chaidee, a women’s super-heavyweight, was a bronze medallist in Ashgabat at this year’s World Championships.
Thailand is not the only nation to be facing sanctions for having three or more positives within a year.
Egypt had seven positives in December 2016, two of them 14-year-olds.
Although the IWF’s previous anti-doping policy applied at the time, Egypt is still liable to a suspension, though there has been no punishment yet.
Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Malaysia also had three or positives listed within a 12-month period.
Both Azerbaijan and Ukraine featured this week among the five new positives found by the latest round of retesting of samples from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Azerbaijan positive was Valentin Hristov, who is already serving an eight-year suspension for a second offence, and who faces a lifetime ban.
Oleg Torokhtiy, Ukraine’s 105kg Olympic champion in London, faces disqualification.
The nations which are in line for reduced quotas of only two places at Tokyo because of 20 or more doping positives since 2008, provided current cases are closed, are: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and, after this week’s announcements, Armenia.
Those who could send no more than four athletes include Belarus and Ukraine, both very close to the 20 mark, Moldova, Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Iran, Thailand, Uzbekistan and India.
Venezuela and North Korea are within one or two positives of going into double figures.