Weightlifting: Five Russian athletes provisionally suspended by world body

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2012 Olympics bronze medallist Ruslan Albegov is one of the five suspended athletes.
2012 Olympics bronze medallist Ruslan Albegov is one of the five suspended athletes.PHOTO: AP

(REUTERS) – Five Russian weightlifters have been provisionally suspended for potential doping violations based on data retrieved from a Moscow laboratory, the sport’s governing body has said.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said it suspended the athletes “in view of the severity of the asserted anti-doping rule violations and compelling nature of the evidence” it received from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

The five suspended athletes are 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Ruslan Albegov, 2013 women’s world champion Tima Turieva, David Bedzhanyan, Oleg Chen and Egor Klimonov.

“The IWF regrets these additional cases of doping in our sport from some years ago,” IWF President Tamas Ajan said in a statement.

“We note without any satisfaction that weightlifting was far from the only sport to have been affected by the extensive and historical Russian doping revealed by whistleblowers, the media and Wada.

“We can be satisfied, however, that the IWF has shown once again our determination to protect clean sport and promote clean athletes. We have not shown any hesitation in taking the right decisions.”

Scotland players celebrate
The Scots will aim to see off Israel at Hampden

Scotland will face Israel in their one-off Euro 2020 play-off semi-final at Hampden on 26 March.

And if Steve Clarke’s side progress, they will be away to Norway or Serbia for a finals place five days later.

Northern Ireland will host Republic of Ireland in Belfast if both sides win their respective semi-finals at Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovakia.

Israel were one of four ‘Path C’ teams, alongside Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, Scotland could have drawn.

Scotland earned their play-off place by winning Nations League Group C1, with Israel second.

Northern and Republic of Ireland already knew their opponents, with Friday’s draw deciding the host for each final.

Scotland, then managed by Alex McLeish, lost 2-1 away to Israel in October 2018 before beating them 3-2 at Hampden the following month to top the group.

The Scots then finished third in Euro qualifying Group I, while Israel came fifth in Group G.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke: “This is the time to believe”

Clarke’s side, 53rd in the FIFA world rankings, sit 36 places higher than Israel and the semi-final will hold few fears against a side that lost their last four away Euro qualifiers.

However, the potential trip to face Norway or Serbia is a daunting prospect. Norway haven’t suffered a home defeat in more than three years while Serbia are ranked 33rd and played in last year’s World Cup.

Clarke described the prospect of facing Israel in March as “a hugely exciting challenge for us with a massive reward”.

“The players know Israel well having faced them in the Nations League,” he added. “It was a tough match over there but we showed our capabilities with a good win at Hampden last year.

“This is the time to believe. We have three wins in a row and the benefit of momentum. We want to be active participants at EURO 2020, not just hosts, and we will give our all in what I believe will be two games.”

Israel

How did their qualifying group go?

Off the back of losing out to Scotland in their Nations League group, Israel started with a draw with Slovenia and wins over Austria and Latvia. However, things quickly fell apart after that. In their next seven qualifiers, Andi Herzog’s side won just one – a 3-1 home win over bottom-placed Latvia – and lost five.

Despite starting off in pot three side, Israel finished fifth behind Poland, Austria, North Macedonia and Slovenia – winning just one win from eight games against the four sides. There hasn’t been a huge amount of evidence to suggest they’ve improved at all since losing 3-2 at Hampden a year ago.

Key player – Eran Zahavi

Serena Williams playing alongside Andy Murray
Andy Murray and Serena Williams reached the third round of the mixed doubles at Wimbledon

Andy Murray says he could return to playing singles at the Cincinnati Masters next month.

He is playing doubles with brother Jamie at the Citi Open this week but had previously said it was “pretty unlikely” he would play singles at the US Open, which starts on 26 August.

“Best-case scenario probably would be Cincinnati,” said Murray.

“Then if I wasn’t able to play in Cincinnati, there’s a good chance I would probably wait until after New York because I wouldn’t want my first tournament to be playing best of five [sets].”

The men’s singles event at Cincinnati starts on 11 August.

After playing with this brother this week in Washington, three-time Grand Slam champion Murray is due to partner Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the doubles at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, which begins on 5 August.

He and Lopez won the doubles title at Queen’s in June, which was the Scot’s first tournament since his career-extending surgery.

Murray last played in the mixed doubles with Serena Williams at Wimbledon, where they reached the third round.

“For the most part, I’m going to practise singles and play doubles to compete and then each week I’m just going to see,” he added.

“In terms of how I’m moving and feeling and pulling up the next day from these practices, I’m really happy with where I’m at. I think I’m quite close.

“If I keep progressing and feel good in three weeks’ time then I’ll play singles as soon as I’m ready.

“It’s just to get to where I want to get to. I’ll need to play matches and get a little bit more work done in the gym on my cardio.

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