Lasha Talakhadze, the Georgian weightlifter, could win gold on home soil if the Championships are moved ©Getty Images

Next year's European Championships may move venue, probably from Turkey to Georgia, but the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) says there are no plans to switch the date in order to allow seven banned nations to compete.

Antonio Urso, President of the EWF, said reports of the timing switch were "fake news from Russia" and stated: "It is my idea to have the Championships in March as scheduled."

The Georgian Federation has written to all European nations pointing out the importance of sticking to the original dates and saying "there will be nations willing to host the 2018 Senior Championships at a traditional time, and Georgia might be one of them, subject to further discussion".

Venues and dates for the 2018 and 2019 Senior and Age-Group Championships are on the agenda for the EWF Congress in Durres, Albania, on Saturday (October 14) and will also be discussed by the EWF Executive Board tomorrow.

Seven European nations are among the nine suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for doping offences.

All nine had three or more of the 49 weightlifting positives in the retesting of samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

The suspensions are due to begin "in mid-October" after letters of explanation have been sent by the IWF to all nine national federations, probably within the next few days.

The seven European nations - Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey - will be allowed to compete in the European Junior and Under-23 Championships, which run from this Sunday (October 15) until October 21 in Durres.

Georgia could replace Turkey as hosts of the European event ©Getty Images
Georgia could replace Turkey as hosts of the European event ©Getty Images

An IWF spokesperson said that even if the suspensions begin a few days before the end of competition, it was "common sense" to allow all teams to compete in all events.

Reports on the Russian news agency TASS suggested that the 2018 European Championships, due to be hosted by Antalya, Turkey, from March 23 to April 1, would be moved to late October to allow Russia and the other suspended teams to compete.

Urso said this was "fake news" and in an email to all EWF members he said nobody had taken a decision to postpone the 2018 event.

He said he was pleased to hear of Georgia's intent to take over from Turkey, one of the suspended nations, as hosts.

Should that happen, Lasha Talakhadze, the reigning Olympic, world and European super-heavyweight champion, would have a chance of gold in front of his own supporters.

The Georgian Weightlifting Federation President, Kakhi Kakhiashvili, emphasised the importance of staging a Senior Championships without the banned nations.

He said: "The banned countries happen to be the top performing ones, freeing many medal possibilities to others.

"Many nations might receive quite a boost in popularity and funding by taking this opportunity to stand on the podium in the absence of the banned countries."

Russia has finished top of the medals table 11 times in the past 15 years, and one of the other suspended nations topped the medals count on the four occasions when Russia was beaten.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Asian Weightlifting Federation in Bangkok has elected Boossaba Yodbangtoey, of Thailand, as general secretary.

She replaces Mohammed Jalood, of Iraq, who was recently elected to the post of general secretary of the IWF.