About Stones and Glass Houses

About Stones and Glass Houses

Andrew Charniga


Several articles have appeared recently on the “Inside the Games” site reporting on charges made in a German (ARD) Tv documentary:



Apparently an essay from www.sportivnypress.com: “Russian Training Part III” {https://www.sportivnypress.com/2016/russian-training-part-iii/} was used by both ARD and “Inside the Games” as source material for false claims.

The essay “Russian Training Part III” was the final installment of a three part sport science exercise. The purpose of this exercise was to elucidate the problem of doping in weightlifting exacerbated by the IOC re – testing their stored urine samples from the 2008 & and 2012 Olympics. It was not meant as a political statement; nor in any way shape or form meant to harm the reputation of any athlete or official.

Anyone who in actuality endeavors to work towards a level playing field in weightlifting should view the points made in “Russian Training Part III” as a constructive exercise; a critique of past and current practices; which is exactly what they were. Two main points were raised: one, any reliable procedures employed to combat doping must follow the athletes’ progress, i.e., the sport science exercise performed in the article. The second point was stated simply:

“To those who want to see the sport cleaned up, who want to have level playing fields, we can’t expect to eradicate the scourge of doping relying solely on elected officials and such running around with urine sample containers. The coaches, athletes and clubs who celebrate these ‘doper’ deadbeats are part of the problem too. They need to get with the program and stop promoting the deadbeats.” (Charniga, 2016)

However, the two articles cited above exacerbated a deplorable situation to exploit a political witch hunt. Most of the author’s articles which have appeared on the Inside the Games site about weightlifting involve the doping problem. He has neither the knowledge, experience, nor the expertise to grasp the situation in the larger context of a doping problem in all sport

“Doping will always happen,’’ Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said last month during an interview with CNN Money. “This is one of the wars you cannot win.”

‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’

Furthermore, the Inside the Games author is forever quoting his sources (friends) in USA weightlifting touting them as a role model for the weightlifting world; for clean sport; even, repeating USA weightlifting’s pompous bloviations:

“Two of the most senior figures in weightlifting in the United States and Russia have called for investigations into claims of corruption in the sport made by a German television documentary.”

“USA Weightlifting (USAW) also wants retests carried out, before this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, on stored weightlifters’ samples held by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from Rio 2016, and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) from recent World Championships and other events.” Oliver, B., 2020

Of course, this is a classic example of the pot (USA weightlifting) calling the kettle black.

Mr. Oliver was appraised of the fact that doping is not only rampant in USA weightlifting; it is on a precipitous rise. He chose to ignore it. Don’t want to upset your friends? For example, consider the table presented below:

USA registered athletes positives from USADA tests only { https://www.usada.org/news/sanctions/}

Year # positives
2020 19
2019 20
2018 18
2017 18
2016 9
2015 2
2014 3
2013 3
Total 93

The figures presented in the table don’t reflect positives which are under appeal and/or will not be posted until appeals are finalized; one way or the other. With 76 doping positives since 2017; USA weightlifting is clearly one of, if not the worst doping offender on the planet. Many of these positives occurred at the American Open series which are technically international competitions.

Legalized Cheating

“After years of using hacked data to vilify Western athletes as cheats who bend the rules to take banned substances, Russia is warming to a controversial part of the anti-doping system. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2017 that the country’s rivals were using Therapeutic Use Exemptions to game the system. The exemptions allow athletes to treat medical conditions with substances that would otherwise be banned.”

The figures presented do not show the number of USA athletes using banned substances under the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) program; because this information is not made public.  Athletes are permitted to use a banned substance under the TUE guidelines if they have a doctor’s prescription for an illness or some related medical condition. For instance, Alex Rodriguez a professional baseball player obtained a TUE for testosterone for the entire of his best season in the majors in 2007. He had requested another for clomifen but was denied.

This loophole was exploited so much by American athletes at the Olympics in RIO; with such drugs under the classification as SARMs, adderall and the like; one Russian official had to ask: “How do so many sick Americans become Olympic champions”. This gaping loophole has been tightened a bit; but not eliminated altogether. 

Make no mistake, the same sport science math used to track athletes’ results over time in “Russian Training Part III” can be applied to some USA Weightlifting’s athletes, whose improvement in results are unusual; with suspicious jumps in recent years; test history or no.

The figures presented in the table should at the very least disqualify a full American team from participating in the upcoming Olympics. Ask countries like Egypt why their athletes cannot compete; yet while a country with 76 positives in the past 37 months can.

The two graphs presented below indicate USA Weightlifting is not curbing doping it is encouraging doping; even facilitating athletes who dope.

The first graph depicts the relative proportions of positives by sport from published test results of the United States Anti – Doping Agency (USADA). Despite the relatively small number of participants, relative to some of the other sports, weightlifting positives (27%) are second only to the 39% of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) . The reason the MMA numbers are so high is they are new to the USADA testing pool. This group got a lot of public criticism; because, what testing they did was ‘in house’. The MMA turned the testing over to an independent body; in this case USADA to solve the problem.  Presumably the MMA positives will drop over time as the athletes realize they can’t skirt testing as in the past.

The second graph depicts trends. Weightlifting which has been in the USADA testing pool for many years shows a dramatic upswing, starting in 2015; outstripping even Track and Field with a larger number of participants than weightlifting. And, by 2019, while T&F and cycling positives are dropping USA weightlifting’s are rising.

Without question money is the driving factor behind USA Weightlifting’s ballooning doping epidemic. In recent years the qualifying totals for the American Open series have been lowered significantly to pull in more athletes and of course more money. More athletes, regardless of low talent, with even lower prospects in weightlifting; get to compete in a national, and, because it is an open event; an international competition. The athletes have to be dues paying members of USA weightlifting; pay entry fees and so forth. 

All these members and competitors at these events bring in a ton of revenue for the national office and the “senor figures”. Hence, a source of funding for lavish salaries, travels around the globe; training camps in Japan, and so forth.

How would lowering qualifying standards and staging competitions so clogged with entries four platforms are needed to run them contribute to doping? A lot of these competitors come from and train in exercise gyms where there is a culture of using performance enhancing drugs. Many also compete in fitness competitions. They have bodybuilder physiques which are typically antithetical to weightlifting, i.e., get in the way of performing the snatch and the clean and jerk. And, typically the culture of these gyms is outside the mainstream of sport with enforced doping rules.     

So, instead of bloviating what the international bodies should be doing about doping; USA weightlifting should at the very least be subject to the same rules and of course suffer the same sanctions. 


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