Powerlifting cheats targeted

2008-09-12 11:26
Beijing Paralympic Games

Beijing - The International Paralympic Committee vowed on Friday to continue its drive to rid powerlifting of drug cheats following the expulsions of three weightlifters so far from the Beijing Games.

Facourou Sissoko of Mali, Ukrainian Liudmyla Osmanova, and Naveed Ahmed Butt of Pakistan all failed pre-competition tests and have been slapped with two-year bans.

Elsewhere at the Games, German wheelchair basketballer Ahmet Coskun was kicked out after testing positive for a banned drug that he said was in a hair-loss treatment, bringing the total sent home from Beijing to four.

"It's our aim to strengthen all the educational efforts to make sure that powerlifting becomes a fair sport in the Paralympics," IPC medical and scientific director Peter Van de Vliet said.

"It's obviously not a battle we can do on our own. It's something we need to do jointly with all parties involved, including the athletes."

Van de Vliet said the IPC makes a point of specifically targeting powerlifting due to past doping violations in the sport and said the body remains committed to clamping down on cheats.

He said doping was especially problematic in powerlifting because of the pure strength required to succeed.

Some athletes also may abuse weight-loss substances to drop into a lower weight class, giving them a strength advantage over competitors in that class.

Another problem is the fitness club and body-building culture in which performance-enhancing substances are commonly taken, he said.

"The educational message that we want to spread continuously is that you're responsible for what you take in your body and the source of what you take needs to be checked," he said.

He said the use of illegal drugs among Paralympians was a sign athletes were driving for better performances and that the IPC was stepping up testing in response.

"I'm happy to see the Paralympics generally is achieving the standard of elite sport," he said.

But he added: "In elite sport you can't avoid people trying to optimise their achievement in going to substances which are not in accordance with fair practice."

A total of 641 tests had been carried out at the Games, both in and out of competition, by the end of Thursday.

At the Athens Games in 2004, a total of 680 doping tests were conducted, resulting in 10 violations.

Before the Games started, IPC president Philip Craven said he was hoping for a "totally clean" Paralympics but he acknowledged the doping problems associated with powerlifting.

The Beijing Paralympics, involving more than 4 000 athletes, runs until September 17.


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