Thailand’s self-imposed ban was initiated in response to a major steroid scandal last year.
The Thailand Amateur Weightlifting Association (TAWA) has voluntarily withdrawn all of its weightlifting athletes from international competitions including the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. TAWA made the announcement in a press released published on its website on March 7, 2019.
“Thai athletes will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, including the qualification event for Tokyo 2020,” according to the TAWA statement.
TAWA issued the self-imposed ban in response to an embarrassing steroid scandal involving Thai athletes at the 2018 IWF Ashgabat World Weightlifting Championships in Turkmenistan last November. Eight Thai weightlifters tested positive for the use of prohibited anabolic steroids.
Thai women dominated weightlifting competition with the help of a little extra testosterone.
Thailand dominated the women’s medal competition at the 2018 World Championships. Most of the Thai athletes passed the initial anti-doping screening. However, a more thorough investigation found evidence of exogenous anabolic steroid use.
The IWF Athlete Passport Management Unit became suspicious after finding irregularities in in the athletes’ blood samples. The samples were sent for further analysis to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne. The laboratory confirmed that the athletes used exogenous testosterone.
At least 5 of the suspended athletes were women. They included Duanganksnorn Chaidee, Sopita Tanasan, Sukanya Srisurat, Thunya Sukcharoen and Chitchanok Pulsabsakul. Only one male weightlifter was suspended – Teerapat Chomchuen. The remaining two athletes have not been publicly identified.
Srisurat and Sukcharoen each won three gold medals at the 2018 World Championships. They were stripped of their medals after failing the drug tests. Tanasan won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. She gets to keep that medal.
These top Thai weightlifters will be suspended for either 4 years or 8 years. This would effectively make them ineligible for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics anyway.
Thailand is scheduled to host the 2019 IWF Pattaya World Weightlifting Championships in September 2019. Thailand obviously hopes that its self-imposed ban will appease critics who want to move the championships elsewhere.
Bangkok Post. (March 8, 2019). Thai weightlifters skip Olympics, world events over doping cases. Retrieved from bangkokpost.com/news/sports/1641384/thai-weightlifters-skip-olympics-world-events-over-doping-cases