Double world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist Andrei Rybakov of Belarus has tested positive for banned substance meldonium, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has announced.
Rybakov finished second in the under 85 kilogram category in the Olympics at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and clinched the world titles in the division in 2006 in Santa Domingo and the following year in Chiang Mai in Thailand.
The 34-year-old, European champion in 2006, has been given a provisional suspension from the sport, the IWF has confirmed.
“The IWF reports that sample of Mr. Andrei Rybakov (BLR) has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for (S4.5.3 Hormone and metabolic modulators) meldonium,” a statement from weightlifting’s worldwide governing body read.
“As a consequence, the athlete is provisionally suspended in view of a potential anti-doping rule violation.
“In any case where it is determined that the athlete did not commit an anti-doping rule violation, the relevant decision will also be published.”
The news comes after the IWF held an anti-doping seminar in Kazan, entitled “Enough is Enough”, in order to spread information on drug issues to athletes and their entourages.
During the event, held on March 20, the IWF stated that so far no positive tests for meldonium have been recorded in the sport, claiming that their proactive campaign, which has reminded member federations that the substance was to be banned, had helped.
Rybakov's case marks the first weightlifter to have tested positive for the drug.
Russia has been the main affected country in terms of positive tests for the substance, which was developed in Latvia and was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) prohibited list on January 1.
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had warned last week that the number of Russians testing positive for meldonium could reach as high as 30.
The heart attack drug shot into the limelight when five-time tennis Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova announced at a press conference in Los Angeles last month that she had failed a drugs test at January’s Australian Open.
Since then, a string of Russians have failed drugs tests for meldonium, which was placed on WADA’s banned list due to “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”, including four-time world swimming champion Yuliya Efimova.
Water polo player Alexey Bugaychuk was announced as the latest Russian to have tested positive for the drug earlier this week.
He is the 23rd Russian known to have failed a drugs test, 21 of whom have been identified publicly.
Others include track cyclists Anastasia Chulkova, winner of the points race at the 2012 World Track Cycling Championships in Melbourne, and Pavel Yakushevsky, a team sprint bronze medallist at the 2013 European Track Cycling Championships.
Russia is not the only affected country, however, as former European indoor 800 metres champion Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine, along with Ethiopia's Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse and Sweden's Ethiopian-born former world 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi, have all tested positive.
Wrestlers, volleyball and rugby players have also been implicated, as well as several biathletes, including Olga Abramova and Artyom Tyshchenko of Ukraine and Russia's Eduard Latypov, a gold medallist at last year's World Junior Championships.