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Now, disgraced Olympic weightlifter Nijat Rahimov of Kazakhstan was handed down an 8-year ban from competitive weightlifting due to breaking doping rules.
Rahimov was part of one of the greatest head-to-head battles in recent Olympic weightlifting in 2016, where he edged out the legendary Chinese lifter Lu XiaoJun. However, Rahimov’s performance has just been disqualified, thus relinquishing the gold medal.
On March 22, 2022, the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), based out of Lausanne, Switzerland, released a statement detailing Njiat Rahimov’s doping violations and subsequent 8-year ban from the sport. This came after the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) filed an injunction in April of 2021.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Rahimov beat out the favorite Lu XiaoJun in the 77kg weight class by cheating the system. According to CAS, Rahimov swapped out his urine samples with another athlete who had clean results three times during the run-up to the Rio Games.
According to insidethegames.biz, Rahimov was caught during “Operation Arrow,” which was conducted by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that started in 2017 and targeted sample substitution.
All of Rahimov’s records from March 16, 2016, and January 18, 2021, will be wiped away, including any medals, prizes, or points.
The ban began on January 18, 2021, and will last 8 years until 2029.
With news of Rahimov’s disqualification, China’s Lu XiaoJun will move up to the gold medal position from the 2016 Rio Games, making him a three-time gold medal winner. He is now the first Asian weightlifter to win three gold medals, including the 2012 London Games and Tokyo Games.
According to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the process of getting Lu the gold medal could take up until 2024.
Lu is now one of four men who won three gold medals and now stands alongside some of the best weightlifters in history, including Naim Suleymanoglu and Halil Mutlu or Turkey, Pyrros Dimas and Kakhi Kakhiashvili of Greece.
Nijat Rahimov is originally from Azerbaijan but was naturalized to become Kazakhstani. Rahimov made a name for himself at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, where he won a gold medal. He then won silver at the 2013 Junior World Championships.
It wasn’t long after that when Rahimov was suspended for 2 years in June 2013 for using anabolic steroids.
In 2016 he competed at the Rio Games representing Kazakhstan, where he cheated to win the gold in the 77kg class. He set a world record in the clean and jerk with 214kgs and a total of 379kgs. People were questioning his PED usage back then at the games, and the truth has finally caught up with him.
Since the 2016 Rio Games, he has never come close to those numbers with his best total 35kgs less when he won the 2019 Alexander Cup in Belarus with a 344kg total.
Professional sports, especially weightlifting, are rife with athletes cutting corners or cheating to edge out the competition. This wasn’t the first time an Olympic gold medal winner was caught cheating, and it certainly won’t be the last time. Rahimov’s forfeited gold medal marks the sixth that Kazakhstani weightlifters have lost due to disqualifications.
We hope that the sport gets cleaned up; there’s still a lot of work to be done on leveling the playing field.
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