Sports minister backs weightlifter Lovchev despite doping ban

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MOSCOW: Russian Sports Minister Vitali Mutko on Friday (Saturday in Manila) threw his support behind world champion weightlifter Aleksey Lovchev who has been banned for suspected doping in the latest controversy to hit the country’s sports authorities. Lovchev, 26, who won gold in the +105kg category at the world championships in Houston last month, tested positive for the banned growth hormone Ipamorelin. He claims he had permission to use a medicine to ease pain from a knee injury he was suffering at the time of the tournament where he broke the clean-and-jerk and total world records. On Thursday, the International Weightlifting Federation said that traces of Ipamorelin had been found in Lovchev’s ‘A’ sample. Mutko said that Lovchev suffered ruptured knee ligaments a month before the world championships and had authorisation to use a medicine to treat the injury. Lovchev said he was innocent, telling Russian television station Match he was in a state of “absolute shock.”

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