World weightlifting champion Alexei Lovchev of Russia has been provisionally suspended for failing a drug test, the International Weightlifting Federation said December 24.
The 26-year-old tested positive for a banned substance after last month's world championships in Houston, where he broke a world record and won the title in the 105 kilogram-plus category.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko claimed the banned substance, the growth hormone ipamorelin, was a medicine Lovchev had been cleared to use to treat a lateral ligament rupture.
The weightlifting federation said Lovchev's compatriots Aleksei Kosov, Olga Zubova, and Olga Afanaseva also failed drug tests.
"I think this problem has a political motive," Lovchev told the All Sport news agency. "All this is very similar to what is happening against Russian sport.
"I won't give up. I will take all the necessary anti-doping steps to show I am not guilty," he said.
A task force from the governing body of world athletics is making a first visit to Russia on January 10 and 11 to check on progress towards cleaning up the doping scandal that led to the country's suspension from track and field last month.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, TASS, and All Sport News