Russia is set to miss the Olympic weightlifting competition at Paris 2024 after failing to meet a International Weightlifting Federation deadline ©Russian Weightlifting Federation

Russian weightlifters will not take part in the qualifying programme for next year's Olympic Games in Paris, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced today.

A group of 13 athletes with Belarus passports have been cleared but nobody from Russia had sent in documents, including a signed undertaking, by the IWF's deadline of Monday (May 15).

The IWF's Executive Board met today before releasing the list of Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) who are eligible to take part in the IWF Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba, from June 8 until 18.

Any weightlifters who have not started their qualifying effort by the end of that competition cannot go to Paris 2024 because they will be unable to participate in the minimum five events by the time qualification finishes next April.

Last week Russia reacted strongly to the conditions for entry imposed by the IWF, and sent a letter to the governing body after the deadline had passed saying it would respond "soon", after consulting athletes and holding a National Federation Board meeting.

By that point, May 16, Russia's chances of competing as neutrals were already dead, as far as the IWF is concerned.

Maxim Agapitov, President of the Russian Weightlifting Federation, claimed the conditions imposed by the IWF - based on recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and similar to those in other sports - were "discriminatory" and against the Olympic Charter.

Agapitov said last week, "In addition, the proposed system of sanctions and fines [for athletes who break the eligibility rules after being cleared] looks like an attempt at the expense of Russian and Belarusian athletes to improve the financial situation of the IWF…"

This may have been a reference to outstanding fines. 

For every doping violation closed by the International Testing Agency (ITA), which carries out all anti-doping procedures for the IWF, a fine of $5,000 (£4,000/€4,600) is payable to the IWF.

At London 2012, all but one of the medals won by Russians - Tatiana Kashirina’s silver - has been forfeited ©Getty Images
At London 2012, all but one of the medals won by Russians - Tatiana Kashirina’s silver - has been forfeited ©Getty Images

The long-running investigation into historic doping in Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), focusing on the Moscow Laboratory, has so far led to dozens of Russian weightlifters being sanctioned or provisionally suspended.

Five of them were named last week, including the Beijing 2008 silver medallist Dmitry Klokov, and 19 cases are ongoing.

Agapitov also objected to athletes having to undergo constant eligibility checks on whether or not they had voiced any support for the war in Ukraine.

He said, "In addition to the obvious discrimination, all our athletes were immediately recorded as criminals, who will be constantly be (subject to) some kind of 'investigation'.

"This completely undermines any remnants of confidence in the IWF, which itself never brought to a logical conclusion the investigation of its own large-scale abuses that existed over the years, and at the top of which there are still people who formed the active core of the old rotten corruption-doping system."

The eligibility conditions exclude athletes, coaches and other support personnel from Russia and Belarus with links to military and state security organisations, as well as those who have stated support for the war in Ukraine in any way on social media or elsewhere.

Athletes who are eligible must compete in a grey uniform free of designs or logos, and will lift as individual neutrals.

Russia was banned from weightlifting at Rio 2016, was restricted to two places at the delayed 2020 Games, and is now out of Paris 2024.

At London 2012 all but one of the medals won by Russians - Tatiana Kashirina’s silver - has been forfeited. 

When stored samples were retested in 2016 they came up positive and the athletes were disqualified.

The IWF said in a statement, "No signed declarations were received from athletes or support personnel with a Russian passport by the end of the established deadline (May 15, 2023).

"Therefore, AIN lifters and related staff with Russian passports lost the opportunity to enter the upcoming IWF event in Cuba.

"The IWF gave an equal and fair opportunity to the athletes and support personnel from both concerned countries to participate at the IWF Grand Prix in Havana. 

"These recommendations follow the IOC guidelines.

"The IWF opted for a non-exclusion policy, as it deeply believes that sport is one of the most powerful tools for international unity and solidarity.

"Within this spirit of tolerance, and while reiterating its unconditional support for the athletes and sport authorities in Ukraine, the IWF established eligibility criteria and conditions of participation at the upcoming IWF event for individual neutral athletes."

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Yauheni Tsikhantsou of Belarus is allowed to compete in the IWF event in Cuba ©Getty Images
Tokyo 2020 Olympian Yauheni Tsikhantsou of Belarus is allowed to compete in the IWF event in Cuba ©Getty Images

Full details of the conditions and the undertaking to be signed by applicants can be seen here.

Belarus was also restricted to two athletes at Tokyo 2020 because of multiple doping violations.

Yauheni Tsikhantsou failed to make a total at 96 kilograms and Darya Naumava was fifth in the women’s 76kg. 

Tsikhantsou is among the eligible lifters for Cuba – he would be expected to lift at 102kg - but Naumava is not.

The men from Belarus are Henadz Laptse, Andrei Fralou, Petr Asayonak, Ihar Lozka, Pavel Khadasevich, and Siarhei Sharankou, Tsikhantsou and Edward Ziaziulin.

The women are Alina Shchapanava, Siuzanna Valodzka, Dziyana Maiseyevich, Ryna Litoshyk and Darya Kheidzer.

Two coaches, Aleh Loban and Valery Sizianok, a therapist, a team leader and one other official are also eligible.