Six weightlifters, including three Chinese Olympic gold medallists, are among the athletes to have been disqualified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as part of the re-testing of samples stored since Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Cao Lei, Chen Xiexia and Liu Chunhong, gold medallists in the respective women’s 75 kilograms, 48kg and 69kg categories at Beijing 2008, have all been disqualified with all three failing for the prohibited substance GHRP-2 and metabolite (GHRP-2 M2), and Liu also failing for sibutramine.
It means China is facing a ban from international weightlifting competition after the sport's world governing body vowed last year to hand a 12-month suspension to all countries who produced three or more anti-doping rule violations in the combined re-analysis of samples from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
It had been expected that these would come into force in time for Rio 2016, but that was not possible because the IOC had yet to formerly sanction those implicated - even though their names had already been announced by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
The three other weightlifters to be disqualified are Turkey’s Sibel Simsek, Azerbaijan’s Intigam Zairov and Armenia’s Norayr Vardanyan.
Simsek, fourth in the women’s 63kg at London 2012, tested positive for prohibited substances dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol) and stanozolol.
Zairov and Vardanyan, who finished sixth and 11th respectively in the men’s 94kg at London 2012, both failed for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).
The other two athletes disqualified are both from Belarus; women’s shot put thrower Nadzeya Ostapchuk and women’s hammer thrower Darya Pchelnik.
Ostapchuk, bronze medallist at Beijing 2008, failed for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol) and tamoxifen, while Pchelnik, fourth at Beijing 2008, failed for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).
In a previous doping case, Ostapchuk lost her gold medal from London 2012.
The IOC is retesting hundreds of samples from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, using new techniques to uncover cheating that went undetected at the time.
Kazakhstan's Alla Vazhenina stands to be upgraded to the gold medal won by Cao, while Chinese Taipei's Chen Wei-ling and Russia's Oksana Slivenko are first in line behind Chen and Liu respectively.
Cuba's Misleydis González, who finished fourth in the women's shot put at Beijing 2008, could now take silver given that Ostapchuk's compatriot Natallia Mikhnevich, the runner-up, was sanctioned in November after her samples tested positive for methandienone and stanozolol.
China's Lijiao Gong, the fifth-place finisher, could be upgraded to bronze.