Kazakhstan weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, one of the sport’s biggest names, has been stripped of his two Olympic gold medals. The International Olympic Committee stripped Ilyin of the gold medals he won in 2008 and 2012, both in the 94-kilogram class, the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee said in a statement on Wednesday. The IOC has yet to comment.
“I’m shaken today, obviously in shock,” Ilyin said in comments reported by Kazakh news site Tengri. “I’m thinking about an appeal.”
As well as losing his medals, Ilyin is set to receive a lengthy ban from the International Weightlifting Federation.
Samples Ilyin gave at the Beijing and London Games were retested this year using improved detection techniques. Banned steroids stanozolol and turinabol were found in Ilyin’s samples, the IWF said in June.
Ilyin is one of the biggest celebrities in weightlifting with over 400,000 followers on Instagram, and he’s the only athlete to win two Olympic gold medals for Kazakhstan.
The IOC reanalyzed more than 1,000 stored samples from the Beijing and London Games. The new tests can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.
Kazakhstan’s weightlifting program, which had been one of the world’s most successful over the last 10 years, has been almost wiped out by the retesting, with all five gold medals won by Kazakh lifters in 2008 and 2012 now stripped.
The IOC recorded at least 98 positive tests across numerous sports from the London and Beijing retesting program, with more expected in the pipeline. The IOC also plans to retest samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after the former Russian lab director said samples were manipulated to cover up doping by Russian athletes.