Albanian gold medalist weightlifter suspended for a second time over doping

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 17, 2018 16:10

Albanian gold medalist weightlifter suspended for a second time over doping

Story Highlights

  • Romela Begaj, who last December became Albania's first ever world champion in women's weightlifting has failed a doping test, provisionally suspending her and stripping her of the medals she won at the late 2017 IWF World championships in the U.S..

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TIRANA, Jan. 17 – Albania’s weightlifting has been hit by a new doping scandal, the second in the past three years, marring the reputation of one of Albania’s traditionally best performing sports on international stage.

Romela Begaj, who last December became Albania’s first ever world champion in women’s weightlifting has failed a doping test, provisionally suspending her and stripping her of the medals she won at the late 2017 IWF World championships in the U.S..

The 31-year-old athlete has tested positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, which she also failed in a 2014, leading to a two-year ban. If confirmed positive in the B sample, the Albanian weightlifter risks facing a four-year ban and could also be banned for life, experts say.

Gazmend Hackani, Romela Begaj’s coach and husband, claims his wife has used no banned substance and is optimistic the B sample will prove it.

Competing in the women’s 69 kg, Begaj won gold in the snatch with 107 kg and silver in total with 235 kg after finishing fifth in the clean and jerk with 128 kg.

Begaj has represented Albania twice at the Summer Olympic Games and managed to finish sixth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was banned to participate at the Rio 2016 Olympics after being suspended over doping in 2014 at the Kazakhstan World Weightlifting Championships where she was stripped of her gold medal in snatch. Two other Albanian male weightlifters were suspended for using banned substances at that time.

Weightlifting has traditionally been Albania’s best performing Olympic discipline at international competitions.

In 1972, late Ymer Pampuri set a world record at the Munich Olympic Games for the press at featherweight lifting 127.5 kg, finishing ninth overall following an injury. Pampuri, who died in early 2017 at 73, has since been a world record holder in the clean and press, which later in 1972 was removed from competition due to difficulties in judging proper technique and health concerns.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 17, 2018 16:10