Iran stunned by lifters' ban

The entire Iranian weightlifting team has been banned from competing at the upcoming world championships after nine out of the 11 squad members tested positive for doping.

    Hossein Rezazadeh: Not implicated, but still banned

    The decision is a huge blow for the world and Olympic champion Hossein Rezazadeh, who is included in the ban despite being one of the two athletes who tested negative.

    The giant 28 year old is the most famous sportsman in Iran and he was quick to release a statement once the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) informed the Iranian weightlifting federation that the team was barred from taking part in the championships.

    "I am certain of myself and all Iranians should know that their champion is healthy,"  the dual-Olympic champion and world record holder in  the 105+ kilogramme category said

    The reports carried on Iranian state media did not say what banned substance the nine athletes had indeed tested positive for but the Islamic republic's Bulgarian coach Georgi Ivanov was quoted referring to food supplements.

    Ivanov stated that he was not aware that additives in the food supplements were illegal and had done what he thought was best for the athlete's abilities.

    The lesser-known Asghar Ebrahimi was the other athlete to test negative in the squad.
    Ever since Rezazadeh's broke the world record in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, his picture has decorated billboards and buses in Iran and his reputation has even surpassed that of football hero Ali Daei.
    The Iranian Physical Education authority said that it would deal seriously with those behind the doping.
    The world championships are being held between September 30 and October 7 in the Dominican Republic and are the first opportunity to  win qualification places for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.



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