Talha Talib is widely reported to have failed a drugs test ©Getty Images

Talha Talib, Pakistan’s best weightlifter in decades and first-ever medallist at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships four months ago, has tested positive for banned substances.

Talib, who came close to winning a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games before finishing fifth, was a gold-medal favourite for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games but will now miss that event beginning on July 28.

He has not asked for a B sample to be taken by the International Testing Agency (ITA), which carries out all anti-doping procedures for the IWF, and faces a four-year ban from the sport.

Talib, 22, is the second prominent young Olympian to test positive since the Games last year after Igor Son of Kazakhstan, a 61 kilograms bronze medallist.

There were no doping positives during the Games.

Talib was one of the eight athletes given a tripartite invitation to compete in Tokyo by the International Olympic Committee.

Talha Talib was only 2kg off the 67kg podium at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Talha Talib was only 2kg off the 67kg podium at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

He was in contention for a medal until the last few lifts of the 67kg contest, which was won in sensational style by Chen Lijun of China, who broke the Olympic record to finish ahead of Luis Javier Mosquera of Colombia.

Talib’s career-best total of 320kg left him 2kg behind the bronze medallist Mirko Zanni of Italy.

The ITA’s out-of-competition testing mission last month is said to have covered the entire Pakistan team in two centres, Gujranwala and Lahore.

No official announcements have been made but Pakistan media reports state that three athletes came up positive for unspecified banned substances, and Talib was one of them.

If the news is confirmed, Pakistan could be suspended from weightlifting for multiple violations within a year.

Talib is reported to have written to the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation claiming that he had "no idea about the presence of prohibited substances" in his body, and that he would "never even think about violating doping rules".

He is reported to have further said that he "could have made an unintentional mistake, which could be due to lack of knowledge, and for that I am sorry.

"I have always kept my focus on training and making my country proud through lawful means."

Igor Son has also tested positive for a banned substance since Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Igor Son has also tested positive for a banned substance since Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Talib was unable to discus the case today but said he would speak to insidethegames about it later this week.

He has been tested nine times before and has never provided a positive sample.

Talib, who has been supported throughout his career by the President of the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation, Hafiz Imran Butt, was a national youth champion at the age of 12.

He started in the sport as an eight-year-old in Gujranwala, when he was coached by Naveed Malik and the former Olympian Arshad Malik, who competed at Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976, and was later trained by his father and national coach, Muhammad Islam Natiq, who helped him to a landmark snatch bronze medal at the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan a year ago.

His efforts in Tokyo and at the IWF World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last November led to Talib being showered with awards and prizes.

In Talib’s absence, top spot in the 67kg rankings for Birmingham 2022 goes to an Indian lifter, Jeremy Lalrinnunga.

Talib won a 62kg bronze medal at Gold Coast 2018.