May 17, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) Four Russian weightlifters, including a world-record holder, have been banned for doping.

Alexei Lovchev, who won a world title in Houston in November with a world record total over two lifts, has been banned for four years after a positive test for the banned substance ipamorelin, the Russian Weightlifting Federation said on Tuesday.

His gold medal from the worlds is set to go to Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia, while his world record will be nullified, restoring a 16-year-old mark set by Iranian lifter Hossein Rezazadeh.

Russian weightlifters Alexei Kosov and Olga Afanasyeva were also banned for four years, while former European champion Olga Zubova was given an eight-year ban for a second offense. All three tested positive for steroids.

Zubova, who failed a test at the 2013 world championships, competed at the worlds only one month after her last doping ban expired.

The federation said in a statement that it planned to appeal Lovchev's ban ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, claiming a mistake in the laboratory analysis, but did not dispute the other sanctions.

''The Canadian laboratory produced a mistaken result,'' Russian federation president Sergei Syrtsov told state TV. ''There is a chance, a good chance, that Alexei will still be able to go to Rio. Specialists are working on this.''

International Weightlifting Federation lawyer Magdolna Trombitas told The Associated Press that the hearings for the four Russian lifters concluded, but said the federation could not comment publicly on the verdicts until the window for appeals expired.

Weightlifting has been dogged by persistent doping for years. The entire Bulgarian team was barred from the Olympics after 11 of its lifters received doping bans last year, while recent years have also seen doping cases in leading countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and North Korea.

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