Before a single kilogram of weight even leaves the ground at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the balance of competition has become a little more interesting for the participants.
The International Weightlifting Federation announced that eight Russian weightlifters, all of whom were potential medal favorites, would be banned from the 2016 Olympics after “extremely shocking and disappointing” doping results.
At the 2012 London Olympics, the Russians earned five silver medals and one bronze – though possible medal reallocation may eventually change those results.
Because of the Russian’s recent success, the ban will open the door for others to become medal contenders in Rio.
Tatiana Kashirina‘s absence from the Rio Games will certainly send shockwaves. She was set to participate in her second Olympics after earning a silver medal in 2012 in the 75+kg (165+ lbs) weight class, where she fell just 1.0kg (2.20 lbs) short of China’s Zhou Lulu and the gold medal.
As of July 2016, Kashirina holds 75+kg (165+ lbs) world reconds in the snatch (155.0kg/341.7 lbs) and clean and jerk (193.0kg/425.5 lbs).
Super heavyweight Ruslan Albegov will also be missing his second Olympics after receiving a bronze medal in his debut. The 28-year-old lifted a total weight of 448.0kg (987.6 lbs) in his two lifts, falling 7.0kg (15.4 lbs) behind gold medalist Behdad Salimi.
Anastasia Romanova was expected to be in the mix for a medal in what is considered a relatively thin 69kg (152 lbs) weight class. She finished third at the 2015 World Championships with a snatch of 116.0kg (225.7 lbs) and a clean and jerk of 137.0kg (302 lbs).
2015 World Champion Artem Okulov will not be making his Olympic debut in Rio. The 22-year-old won the 2015 World Championships in the 85.0kg (187 lbs) weight class with a total weight on 391kg (862.0 lbs) – a number that would have earned him a gold medal in 2012.
Three-time runner-up at the World Championships in the 69kg (152 lbs) weight class, Oleg Chen earned silver in 2011, 2013 and 2015. After recovering from knee surgery, Chen set a personal record with a 160kg (352.7 lbs) snatch and 184kg (405.6 lbs) clean and jerk the 2015 Worlds.
Adam Maligov, competing in the 94kg (207 lbs) division – the same weight class as United States’ Kendrick Farris – finished second at the 2014 European Championships.