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Olympic weightlifting champion Xiaojun Lyu handed provisional doping suspension

Olympic weightlifting champion Xiaojun Lyu handed provisional doping suspension
© Reuters
Chinese weightlifter Xiaojun Lyu - a three-time Olympic champion - is provisionally suspended after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in October.

Three-time Olympic weightlifting champion and five-time world champion Xiaojun Lyu has been handed a provisional suspension after testing positive for a banned substance.

The 38-year-old won the gold medal in the men's -81kg competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, having also won the -77kg title at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.

A report from the International Testing Agency (ITA) has revealed that the Chinese athlete returned a positive out-of-competition test for erythropoietin (EPO) in October, and he has been provisionally suspended as a result.

EPO is used to stimulate red blood cell production, which can therefore have benefits on an athlete's stamina and endurance as more oxygen is transported around the body.

"The ITA reports that a sample collected during an out-of-competition testing mission on 30 October 2022 from Xiaojun Lyu, a weightlifter from China, has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited peptide hormone erythropoietin (EPO)," a statement from the ITA read.

"EPO is prohibited under the 2022 WADA Prohibited List as peptide hormone (S2). The athlete has been informed of the case and has been provisionally suspended until the resolution of the matter. He has the right to request the analysis of the B-sample."

Lyu released a statement to Inside the Games following news of his provisional suspension, expressing his 'great shock' at the findings and vowing to cooperate with the authorities in order to clear his name.

"I was greatly shocked. I believe that the value of sports lies in fair play and I resolutely oppose the use of any prohibited substance or prohibited method and any other kind of cheating, which is completely against my values, and goes against the anti-doping education I have received," the Olympic champion said.

"In my 24 years of weightlifting I have been tested hundreds of times, without any ADRV (anti-doping rule violation). Since my return from retirement in August 2022, I have received a total of eight doping control tests in just four months.

"I love weightlifting very much, and I have won all results clean. I have neither any motive nor any reason to use any prohibited substance or prohibited method in the final phase of my beloved weightlifting career.

"I will cooperate with related organisations for investigation, to find out the real cause of this issue, and to prove my innocence."

Lyu holds the Olympic weightlifting records for the snatch (170kg) and clean & jerk (204kg) in the men's -81kg category, and he is the overall world record holder with a total of 378kg in the two -81kg events, which he set at the 2019 World Championships.

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