Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin, who was stripped of two Olympic gold medals for doping, has been forced to withdraw from the 2018 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships, which are scheduled to begin here tomorrow.
The 30-year-old was suspended for two years in June 2016 and was due to return to international competition in Turkmenistan’s capital in the 102 kilograms category, in which he had posted an impressive entry of 400kg.
But he has announced through the Weightlifting Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s (WFRK) Instagram page that he has incurred a "quite serious" spinal injury that has ruled him out of the event.
"I have been thinking for a very long time how to tell the people of Kazakhstan that I will not be competing at the World Championships," he is quoted as saying when translated from Russian.
"Finally, I decided to announce this here and now.
"I will not compete at the World Championships because I have a spinal injury and quite a serious one.
"Frankly, my future sports career is in question.
"But I will not be discouraged - everything is in order.
"I am going to Ashgabat as a trainer."
Ilyin, arguably the most controversial figure in the sport, and compatriot Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who was also was suspended for two years in June 2016, both earned a place in Kazakhstan's World Championships team by winning at the new weight categories of 102kg and 55kg respectively at their National Championships last month.
The event in Taldykorgan was a domestic qualifier for the World Championships, the first event in the IWF's new qualifying programme for Tokyo 2020.
Both lifters have a long way to go yet to make the Olympic team as Kazakhstan is due to be limited to the minimum of two places under new IWF qualifying rules, one male and one female - although the WFRK is challenging the qualifying rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Ilyin and Chinshanlo were never expected to return with big numbers, and the object was simply to win and qualify for the World Championships.
Ilyin was stripped of his Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic gold medals, both at 94kg, after coming up positive in the re-testing of samples.
He expected a longer ban but because he was informed of his 2012 violation first, he escaped on a technicality and was suspended for just two years.
That contrasts with another 30-year-old Kazakh lifter, Vladimir Sedov, who was also one of the nation's 10 positives in the re-tests.
During the competition in Taldykorgan, the WFRK was informed that Sedov, the 94kg world champion in 2009, had been disqualified from fourth place in the 85kg event at Beijing 2008 and suspended for eight years until 2024.
Chinshanlo, 25, did not train for the first year of her suspension and was less impressed with her efforts but said she would before the World Championships.
She was stripped of her London 2012 gold medal at 53kg.
Both athletes benefited from a preparatory four-month training camp in Romania, with Nijat Rahimov.
"I will bring Nijat Rahimov to the platform because we worked together for a year," Ilyin added in the Instagram post.
"As with Zulfiya Chinshanlo, I will help the coaches, my team.
"In a word, I will serve at the World Championships as a playing coach."
The 2018 IWF World Championships, which according to latest figures will feature 604 athletes from 88 countries, is the first qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.
A total of 79 athletes from 27 countries who failed to log their own whereabouts on the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System have been barred from the event, which is scheduled to be held at the Ashgabat Olympic Complex's Martial Arts Arena.
One of the most eagerly anticipated competitions will be that in the men's over-109kg category.
The A session is due to take place on November 10, the last day of action.
Among those in the field is two-time reigning world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia.
He is likely to face a strong challenge from the likes of Russia's Ruslan Albegov, the 2013 and 2014 world super heavyweight champion, and Brazil's Fernando Reis, a two-time Pan American Games gold medallist.
Other contenders include Estonia's Mart Seim, the 2015 world silver medallist, and Armenia's Gor Minasyan, the Rio 2016 silver medallist.
A total of 18 men have entry totals of 400kg or more.
Nine countries banned by the IWF for having multiple positives in the re-testing of doping samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics - namely Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Turkey - have now served a year's suspension and return to international competition at the 2018 World Championships.