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Kazakhstan's Rahimov Snatches Gold In Weightlifting, As Doping Concerns Persist

  • RFE/RL

Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan was banned for two years in 2013 after failing a test while competing for Azerbaijan.

Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan was banned for two years in 2013 after failing a test while competing for Azerbaijan.

Nijat Rahimov has won gold for Kazakhstan in weightlifting at the Rio Olympics, but his victory was dogged by doubts about past doping violations.

Rahimov, who only returned from a doping ban last year, put on a world-record-breaking performance to top the 77-kilogram class on August 11.

He was banned for two years in 2013 after failing a test while competing for Azerbaijan, another country with long-standing doping problems.

The rest of Kazakhstan's team barely avoided being excluded from the Rio Games entirely after repeated failures of retests of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games.

The Central Asian state could ultimately stand to lose five gold medals if those past retests show positive results.

Weightlifting competitions at the Rio Games have been hit hard by doping bans levied against the Russian, Bulgarian, and several Kazakh competitors.

The International Weightlifting Federation had threatened to impose a total ban on Kazakhstan and Belarus, but stopped short because several doping cases were not processed in time for the Olympics.

Rahimov's victory came one day after compatriot Karina Goricheva earned a weightlifting bronze medal along with Kyrgyzstan's Izzat Artykov. It was Kyrgyzstan's first medal of the 2016 games, and only its fourth medal in any Olympics.

Defending champion Maia Maneza of Kazakhstan missed the Olympics after failing a drug test.

In other competitions on August 10, Dmitry Balandin won gold for Kazakhstan in the 200-meter breaststroke, edging out the United States' Josh Prenot for the victory. Russia's Anton Chupkov won the bronze.

In fencing, Russia's Inna Deriglazova gave her home country its second title of the Rio Games, beating Elisa Di Francisca in the women's foil.

Deriglazova defeated the Italian 12-11 on August 10 to claim a world title for the second year in a row.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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