A Moldovan doctor has been banned from the sport for life for asking look-alikes to donate drug test samples under the names of real weightlifters heading to the world championships.
The International Testing Agency said on Thursday that Dorin Balmus was representing three Moldovan athletes in 2015 when asked to provide samples shortly before competing at the world championships in Houston.
The ITA said three look-alikes had assumed the identity of the weightlifters because they “each went through a cycle of doping at the time” and were at risk of testing positive. All three were able to compete in the world championships, but were subsequently given doping bans.
Lifetime doping bans are rare in sport, but the ITA has deemed it appropriate for Balmus “given the nature and seriousness of the rule violations.”
The deception was later revealed in a 2020 documentary by German broadcaster ARD. The film also reported on doping cover-ups and financial irregularities at the International Weightlifting Federation, which led to the resignation of long-time President Tamas Ajan.
The World Anti-Doping Agency last year claimed the practice of using impostors for doping tests was widespread in weightlifting and said it was investigating 18 suspected cases of “urine substitute” in six countries. DNA testing can determine if a sample matches others given by the same athlete.