International Weightlifting Federation suspends Russian and Belarusian athletes and events

The sport’s governing body of weightlifting has added its voice to the growing international outcry over Russia’s attack on Ukraine. On March 3, 2022, the Board of Directors of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) issued a press release in which the organization declared its intention to penalize Russia and Belarus for the invasion of Ukraine .

In line with “the response of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the current crisis” – referring to a February 28, 2022 statement by the IOC in which it strongly recommended that no international sports federation allow the participation of Russian athletes – the IWF said that they have “made the decision to suspend the participation of all athletes, team officials and technical officials from Russia and Belarus of any international or continental weightlifting event until further notice.

Additionally, the IWF has announced that no sanctioned competitions will be held in Russia or Belarus until further notice. Beyond the attendance bans imposed on both countries, the IWF also says it will take decisive action to help the Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation (UWF) by providing “financial support and training…and work with UWF to rebuild affected facilities.”

The IWF’s actions against Russia and Belarus mark the latest in a series of heated protests from the international community as a whole. On February 24, 2022, Russia launched what it called a “special military operation” against Ukraine, involving large-scale combat and artillery attacks. The invasion is considered by some officials to be the largest conventional military attack in Europe since World War II.

Consequences

The IWF’s decision to expend Russian and Belarusian athletes indefinitely comes amid an outcry from many prominent voices in the sport. Athletes like three-time European champion Dmytro Chumak from Ukraine and 2008 Olympic silver medalist from Russia Dmitry Klokov are among the voices protesting the actions of the Russian Federation.

With the Board suspension in effect, several top competitors from Russia and Belarus are unlikely to make appearances at sanctioned competition in 2022:

  • Eduard Ziaziulin (+109KG, BLR) – Bronze medalist at the 2021 World Championships in the snatch.
  • Daria Naumava (76KG, BLR) — Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, fifth place.
  • Yauheni Tsikhantsou (96/102KG, BLR) – 2019 World Championships Gold Medalist Overall, Tokyo 2020 Olympian.
  • Zulfat Garaev (67KG, RUS) – Gold medalist at the 2021 World Championships in the snatch.
  • Artem Okulov (89KG, RUS) — Gold medalist at the 2021 World Championships in clean and jerk, 2015 World Champion.
  • Iana Sotieva (76KG, RUS) – Bronze medalist of the 2021 World Championships in total.
  • Daria Akhmerova (87KG, RUS) — Bronze medalist at the 2021 World Championships in clean and jerk.

The 2021 World Weightlifting Championships (WWC) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the first event since WWC 2015 at which Russia has maintained a significant competitive presence. The Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) won 11 medals in the snatch and clean and jerk, as well as three medals in total (the sum of the two lifts).

The IWF Board of Directors said in its statement that it was “closely monitor developments…and may adapt or possibly lift the exceptional measures [against Russia and Belarus].”

Featured image: Sgr/Shutterstock

Naomi C. Amerson