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Doctor banned for sending lookalikes to weightlifters' drugs tests

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By AP
An athelete lifts 185 kg in the clean and jerk of a men's 105 kg weightlifting competition.
An athelete lifts 185 kg in the clean and jerk of a men's 105 kg weightlifting competition.   -   Copyright  Arnulfo Franco/AP
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A Moldovan doctor has been given a life ban from sport after being found guilty of arranging for lookalikes to give drug testing samples under the names of real weightlifters heading for the world championships.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) said on Thursday that Dorin Balmus represented three Moldovan athletes in 2015 when they were asked to provide samples shortly before competing at the world championships in Houston.

The ITA said three lookalikes took on the identities of the weightlifters because they were "each undergoing a doping cycle at the time" and risked testing positive. All three were able to compete at the world championships but later received drug-related bans.

Life bans for doping are rare in sport but the ITA ruled it was appropriate for Balmus "given the nature and severity of the rule violations."

The deception later came to light in a 2020 documentary by German broadcaster ARD. The film also reported on doping cover-ups and financial irregularities at the International Weightlifting Federation, leading to longtime president Tamas Ajan stepping down.

The World Anti-Doping Agency alleged last year that the practice of using impostors for doping tests was widespread in weightlifting and said it was investigating 18 cases of "suspected urine substitution" in six countries. DNA testing can determine whether a sample matches others given by the same athlete.