Weightlifter Isabel Maria Urrutia won Colombia's first Olympic gold in any sport when she triumphed at Sydney 2000 ©Getty Images

Colombia has been selected as host nation for the 2022 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships - only 10 months after escaping a suspension from the sport.

It is a remarkable turnaround for the Colombian Weightlifting Federation, whose President William Peña said: "Sensational news! Thank you IWF for trusting us.

"This is recognition of a country that transforms lives through weightlifting.

"With articulated work and a lot of love we will make the best World Championships in history."

The Championships, which are due to straddle the last week of November and first week of December, with precise dates to be announced, are set to be the first qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Bogota, the capital, will be the host city as Colombia, one of the world’s strongest nations in the sport, hosts an IWF World Championships for the first time.

After China withdrew as hosts last month because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, eight nations put in bids for the Championships, the first event on the Paris 2024 qualifying schedule.

The IWF Executive Board, which met on Friday (April 22) in Lausanne, Switzerland, voted by secret ballot with a deadline of 1800 CET the following day, before Colombia was declared the winner today.

In the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Colombia was in danger of being suspended because three of its athletes had tested positive for boldenone, a banned steroid that is widely used in cattle-rearing in Latin America.

The athletes claimed that they had ingested the boldenone by eating tainted beef, an argument made successfully by a Colombian tennis player in 2020.

"It is impossible to know what athletes are eating or consuming in a country where there are thousands of weightlifters," Peña said at the time.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against them and on June 11 last year the International Testing Agency (ITA), which carries out all anti-doping procedures for the IWF, called a sanctions panel into action to determine Colombia’s fate.

Colombian Luis Mosquera claimed a silver medal in the men's 67kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Colombian Luis Mosquera claimed a silver medal in the men's 67kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ©Getty Images

The athletes stated their intent to appeal against the CAS ruling.

Colombia had a lot to lose: it had qualified a maximum team of eight and, on rankings, was the second strongest nation after China.

On June 21 last year Peña told insidethegames: "We are in the hands of God and the judges."

Peña, who declined to stand in the IWF elections - subsequently delayed until June this year - because "it would not be proper" while Colombia was accused of doping, also said: "We have weightlifting all over our country, we take children from drug-trafficking and crime groups and we link them to weightlifting.

"Colombia has eight cases of doping in 70 years, all of them out of competition.

"We only ask that they do not end this honest work we do in Colombia."

Eight days later, less than a month before the start of the Olympic Games, the ITA announced that Colombia must forfeit five of its eight places but it was cleared to send a team to Tokyo and could continue to host IWF events.

Of the three Colombians who competed in Tokyo, two finished fifth, Brayan Rodallegas at 81 kilograms and Mercedes Pérez at 64kg.

Luis Mosquera thought he had done enough to win gold in the men’s 67kg but he had to settle for silver when Chen Lijun of China moved up 12kg on his first clean and jerk to overtake him.

Colombia has won more medals in weightlifting than any other Olympic sport despite the fact that the first of them was not won until 2000, by Maria Isabel Urrutia.

In announcing the decision the IWF said Colombia "has a long history in weightlifting and has been a true testament of grassroot development of the sport."

Mike Irani, the IWF Interim President, said: "This is a joyous occasion not just for the Colombian Weightlifting Federation, but also the IWF.

"Colombia has provided a consistent stream of strong weightlifting champions through the years and it brings us immense pleasure to be able to take the IWF Senior World Championships there.

"Weightlifting has changed the lives of many Colombians and this event will prove to be significant in the growth of the sport within the country."