As a follow-up to the ITA’s and the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) investigations on doping in the sport of weightlifting until 2018, the ITA had received WADA’s case file pertaining to “Operation Arrow”. This investigation focused on the practice of urine substitution at the point of collection. After a thorough assessment of the information and evidence the ITA decided to assert an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) for sample swapping against athlete Nijat Rahimov (Kazakhstan). The urine substitution (Article 2.2 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules) occurred on four occasions over a period of time in 2016, in preparation for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
On 22 March 2022, the anti-doping division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS ADD) sanctioned the athlete with 8 years of ineligibility and the disqualification of all results obtained from 15 March 2016.
On 12 April 2022, the athlete filed an appeal before CAS. A hearing took place on 22 September 2022 at the CAS headquarters in which the ITA represented the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). After hearing the parties and considering the written submissions and evidence, CAS confirmed that the athlete had committed several ADRVs for the of use of a prohibited method (urine substitution) in accordance with Article 2.2 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules.
In its decision, CAS notably held that this matter was “a clear case of cheating by an athlete seeking to avoid anti-doping testing” and that “this is the kind of cheating the anti-doping rules are designed to prevent”.
Since this was the athlete’s second ADRV, CAS confirmed that Nijat Rahimov should be sanctioned with 8 years of ineligibility. The disqualification of all results obtained by the athlete from 15 March 2016 (date of the first evidence of urine substitution) until the provisional suspension imposed on 18 January 2021, which includes the gold medal obtained at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 (Men’s 77 kg), was also confirmed.
The ITA will not comment further on this case.