Weightlifting’s world governing body says it has provisionally suspended five Russian weightlifters, citing "compelling evidence" that they had violated anti-doping rules.
In a statement on August 13, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said that the “severity” of the asserted violations led to the suspension and the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the five lifters, all world or European championship medalists.
It said the International Testing Agency (ITA) will prosecute the cases.
The investigation is based on findings from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which early this year gained access to data and samples from Moscow's anti-doping laboratory, the statement said.
A WADA-commissioned report in 2015 outlined evidence of systematic, state-backed doping in Russian athletics. Another report a year later documented more than 1,000 doping cases across dozens of sports, most notably at the Winter Olympics that Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.
IWF President Tamas Ajan said the alleged offenses occurred "some years ago" and should be seen as part of efforts to clean up weightlifting, which has been plagued by doping over the years.
"We note without any satisfaction that weightlifting was far from the only sport to have been affected by the extensive and historical Russian doping revealed by whistle-blowers, the media, and WADA," Ajan said.
The Russian weightlifters accused of doping include former world champions Ruslan Albegov, who also won three Olympic bronze medals, and Tima Turieva. The others are double European champions Oleg Chen and David Bedzhanyan, as well as Igor Klimonov, who won European championship silver this year.
Other sports federations have also started investigations based on the WADA evidence, with the International Biathlon Union banning in June two Russians -- Aleksandr Chernyshov and Aleksandr Pechyonkin -- for four years each.
WADA President Craig Reedie has said he expects more than 100 new doping cases to be brought across various Russian sports.