Three-time Olympic champion Lyu Xiaojun of China has been provisionally suspended following a positive doping test.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) announced its decision after Lyu returned a positive sample during an out-of-competition test on October 30th. The ITA, which oversees the majority of the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) anti-doping programme, notified the weightlifter soon after.

ITA confirmed that he had tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a prohibited peptide hormone.

“EPO is prohibited under the 2022 WADA Prohibited List as peptide hormone”, ITA said in a statement.

It is used for medical purposes in the treatment of anaemia in chronic kidney disease, anaemia in myelodysplasia, and in anaemia from cancer chemotherapy

“EPO stimulates erythropoiesis (red blood cell production) and can modify the body’s capacity to transport oxygen and, therefore, increase stamina and performance. EPO is prohibited at all times (in and out of competition)”.

It is similar in effect to the drug Simona Halep was recently suspended for.

Lyu retains the right to appeal ITA’s findings.

“Pursuant to the IWF’s delegation of its anti-doping program to the ITA, the prosecution of the case is being handled entirely by the ITA. Given that the case is underway, there will be no further comments during the ongoing proceeding.”

Lyu Xiaojun became the oldest Olympic Champion at the 2020 Tokyo games after winning the gold in the 81kg category.

He had previously won the 2012 Olympics gold in the 77kg category and was handed his second gold from the 2016 games after Nijat Rahimov was banned for doping offences.