Weightlifting has been rocked by yet more revelations of doping violations and cover-ups ©Getty Images

The International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) Interim President, Mike Irani, has admitted that the latest revelations about doping corruption in weightlifting make for "shocking reading".

A three-year investigation, which is continuing, by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) intelligence and investigations division has highlighted a wide range of corrupt practices in the sport.

They include the use of "doppelgangers" to provide clean samples for dopers, synthetic urinary devices to swap clean for dirty urine, transfusions, bribery, tip-offs concerning testing plans, and "undetectable" growth hormones.

New revelations about "doppelgangers" and urine sample substitution will be passed on to other sports, as the WADA team believes the practice is likely to be prevalent among a wide range of athletes.

Using data analysis that focused on athletes who provided a positive sample shortly after a negative one, the WADA team identified a prospective pool of 130 weightlifters suspected of having undergone urine substitution.

Most samples had been routinely destroyed as they were "clean", but some remained and with the help of confidential intelligence WADA eventually investigated 53 samples from 39 weightlifters who were suspected of urine substitution.

Ghana's Forrester Osei, deputy chair of the IWF Athletes' Commission, described the investigation and testing improvements as
Ghana's Forrester Osei, deputy chair of the IWF Athletes' Commission, described the investigation and testing improvements as "good news for all clean athletes" ©Getty Images

Urine substitution was confirmed for 10 weightlifters from five countries through DNA profile analysis and individualisation.

It was also "very likely" to have occurred in samples by another eight weightlifters from five countries, leaving 21 of the 39 clear of suspicion, at least for the samples that existed.

All results from this investigation known as Operation Arrow will be forwarded to the IWF, but WADA is hopeful that all the blame for this practice will not fall on the athletes alone.

The WADA report says, "Operation Arrow is keenly focused on who else may be involved in facilitating this deception, (for example Doping Control Officers, coaches, athlete support personnel).

"To date, Operation Arrow has identified numerous persons of interest including athletes, DCOs, coaches, team doctors and officials.

"This work by Operation Arrow remains ongoing.

"The methodology applied by Operation Arrow in identifying actual and suspected cases of urine substitution can easily be applied to sports other than weightlifting."

WADA will "share the learnings and methodologies… to ensure a global and united effort to address urine substitution."

It will also move to have samples stored for years rather than months.

Forrester Osei, deputy chair of the IWF Athletes' Commission, said: "The development of a new methodology to detect urine substitution through DNA profile analysis and strategies to eliminate future use of doppelgangers during doping control is good news for all clean athletes, and it is a step towards ridding our sport of doping."

IWF Interim President Mike Irani admitted that WADA's report makes for
IWF Interim President Mike Irani admitted that WADA's report makes for "shocking reading" ©IWF

In the week when the IWF confirmed an extension of its partnership with the International Testing Agency (ITA), Irani said: "The IWF is determined to ensure a level playing field for the clean weightlifters, coaches and officials…

"We will continue to take the necessary steps to deliver this level playing field, relying on the independent advice of WADA, the ITA and the IWF’s newly-formed independent Anti-Doping Commission.

"The provisional outcomes of WADA’s investigation into doping within weightlifting make for shocking reading.

"The IWF is firmly committed to empowering the ITA with the resources necessary for follow-up of any intelligence provided to it by WADA."

This week’s agreement will empower the ITA to manage the entire anti-doping programme for international weightlifting, including the investigation and prosecution of all anti-doping rule violations, said an IWF statement.

Since the first weightlifting agreement was signed with the ITA, it has collected more than 2,700 samples from weightlifters and investigated "more than 110 violations".

"Clean weightlifters can rest assured that our sport now benefits from a world-class, independently administered anti-doping programme which will continue well into the future," said Irani.