Pakistan facing long ban after six weightlifters suspended for doping

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It’s taken barely nine months for the bubble to burst. Talha Talib’s sensational performance at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, where he finished fifth in the 67kg class, had provided hopes of a golden future for Pakistan’s weightlifters.

But now a doping scandal threatens Pakistan’s international weightlifting future. The Pakistan Weightlifting Federation faces a lengthy ban from the International Weightlifting Federation after six of its weightlifters, including Talha, were provisionally suspended by the International Testing Agency over doping offences.

Talha and two others, Abubakar Ghani and Sharjeel Butt, were due to take part in this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

They are now out of the Games, due to begin in July, and their coach Irfan Butt — the son of PWF president Hafiz Imran Butt — also facing suspen-sion.

There was also no reaction from the Pakistan Olympic Association, which in the past suspended the Athletics Federation of Pakistan after three ath-letes tested positive for doping at the South Asian Games in 2019.

The POA has formed a committee to probe dop-ing cases in the national kabaddi team but the PWF is a real test case for the country’s Olympic body, which has very friendly terms with PWF chief Imran.

At the Olympics, Imran coached Talha, who tested positive for norandrosterone, a banned steroid, twice within 12 days last year. The first test was on November 29 with the sec-ond during the IWF World Championships in Uz-bekistan, where he won bronze in the snatch.

Abubakar, meanwhile, tested positive for the prohibited hormone and metabolic modulator ta-moxifen metabolite during the Championships where he was 13th among 61 competitors in the 61kg class.

Sharjeel, who competes in the 55kg class, and three others — Ghulam Mustafa, Abdur Rehman and Farhan Amjad — meanwhile refused to give their samples to an ITA team which raided the Railways Stadium in Lahore on November 10.

The quartet had asked ITA investigators for their identities, which the latter refused to show and waited for an hour before putting that case into non-compliance.—AFP