Taipei (Taiwan News) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday announced that three Chinese women weightlifters would be stripped of their Olympic gold medals for doping at the 2008 Beijing Games, leaving the door open for Taiwanese competitor Chen Wei-ling (陳葦綾) to see her medal upgraded to gold.
The IOC said Cao Lei in the 75-kilogram class; Chen Xiexia at 48kg; and Liu Chunhonog at 69kg all tested positive for GHRP-2, which stimulates production of growth hormone. Liu also tested positive for sibutramine, a banned stimulant.
Liu was also a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 69kg class, Cao took two gold at the 2006 and 2007 World Weightlifting Championships, while Chen took three golds at the 2007 World Weightlifting Championships.
In addition to the three Chinese medalists, five other athletes were disqualified in the latest round of tests from an new initiative to re-analyze samples stored from the Beijing and London Olympics. The IOC has recorded more than 100 positive tests in various sports since the re-testing program began, with the majority from Russia and former Soviet block countries.
In December, Turkish weightlifter Sibel Özkan lost her appeal against the disqualification of her silver medal from the 2008 Bejing Olympics, after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol. With the two medalists ahead of her now disqualified, Taiwan's Chen Wei-ling, the bronze medalist in the women's 48-kilogram class, could receive a gold medal as long as passes the re-analysis.
Due to the similarity of the Chinese athletes' three cases, the IOC is recommending the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) investigate the Chinese team more thoroughly.
"This suggests a possible involvement of the athlete's entourage in these cases and the IWF is invited to investigate that situation and, if adequate, to take action against relevant people in the athlete's entourage," the IOC panel said in its published rulings.
China's weightlifting team faces a one year expulsion from the sport, as the IWF imposes automatic bans for nations that had at least three athletes fail the IOC's doping re-tests for the Beijing and London games. This could mean China missing out on the Asian Championships in April and the World Championships in November.