Russian Weightlifting Federation President Maxim Agapitov has called for his athletes to be allowed to compete at Buenos Aires 2018 ©RWF

The Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) has written to the sport's governing body, and the Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) it created, in a final attempt to clear its best young athletes to compete in the Youth Olympic Games in October.

Maxim Agapitov, President of the RWF, highlights his organisation's big-spending efforts to change attitudes among athletes and notes a change in the Russian public's attitude towards doping cheats.

He believes Russia is being unfairly treated and has asked for "justice and a reasonable approach".

Russia and other nations who are suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) until October 20, because of multiple doping offences at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, expect to hear from the IMG within the next few days.

The situation is urgent not just for Russia - Olympic quota places to other nations cannot be confirmed until it is known who will be cleared to compete and who will not.

The Youth Olympic Games start in Buenos Aires in six weeks, on October 6.

Of the nine nations suspended last year, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been allowed to return to competition early on the recommendation of the IMG, while Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and China are still banned.

Eight of the nine - Armenia was absent - met members of the IMG in Lausanne last week but there were no further reductions in suspensions, much to the disappointment of China, which had hoped to gain clearance to compete in the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

All six of those still banned have privately expressed disbelief that Azerbaijan, which has had three doping violations since May 30 this year, is eligible for the Youth Olympic Games.

Agapitov said it had been noted at that meeting, by the IWF general secretary, Mohammed Jaloud, that "children [youth lifters] should not be responsible for punished athletes who violated the rules in 2008 and 2012".

The IMG, whose members are all from outside weightlifting and who work in senior anti-doping roles in Germany, the United States, Denmark and Australia, was set up to monitor progress by the nine in adhering to a range of conditions imposed by the IWF.

The Youth Olympic Games will begin in Buenos Aires in October ©Getty Images
The Youth Olympic Games will begin in Buenos Aires in October ©Getty Images

Agapitov believes strongly that the RWF has done enough to merit an early end to its suspension.

One of the conditions was a $50,000 (£38,000/€42,000) contribution to the IWF for "enhanced anti-doping activity in the country".

Agapitov detailed and documented the outlay of nearly $200,000 (£155,000/€170,000) by the RWF, more than one third of it on additional testing of athletes.

He pointed out other advances made by the RWF, which included the barring of athletes from national competitions until they have passed an anti-doping exam (so far 285 of 427 registered athletes have passed); the hosting or co-hosting of 20 educational seminars and meetings since early 2017; strict adherence to athletes' wherabouts regulations; an upgrade of the federation's website to help with anti-doping education; and the use of polygraph testing of athletes and coaches to verify their statements.

He also says there has been a big swing of public opinion against cheats, highlighting the many comments made about doping on sports news and social media sites.

"It [the reaction of ordinary people] shows very clearly that the so-called 'doping culture' in Russia has ceased to exist," said Agapitov.

"Rather, the 'anti-doping culture' has been developed - the people say harsh words against the cheaters, sometimes in an obscene manner." 

The RWF's biggest outlay was on hosting an international anti-doping seminar in Moscow in May, in cooperation with the IWF and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which was attended by the nine suspended nations and other federations.

The nine all had three or more positives in the retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

The IWF did not wish to make any comment on the Russian federation's letter.

At the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, Khetag Khugaev won gold for Russia in the 85kg class.

Agapitov said of his prospective team: "They have one chance in their lives to compete at the Youth Olympic Games and to deprive them of this right two weeks before the end of the suspension period is not correct."