The Tokyo 2020 cleanse: Kazakhstan moves to toughen doping penalties

The anti-doping legislation had already been approved in Kazakhstan's lower house and will become law when signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Athletes who test positive for banned substances will also have to return generous state financial rewards for sporting achievements and lose stipends, while facing temporary disqualification from the national sports team.   -  Getty Images

Kazakhstan on Thursday passed a law toughening penalties for doping as the Central Asian country attempts to bolster a sporting image tainted by scandals.

Several Kazakh weightlifters have tested positive for banned substances in recent years, moving international sporting authorities to strip them of their medals and reduce the number of berths allocated to the national team at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Kazakh senate approved legislation imposing fines of up to the equivalent of $1,300 (1,170 euros) for trainers and other sports officials who encourage athletes to dope.

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Athletes who test positive for banned substances will also have to return generous state financial rewards for sporting achievements and lose stipends, while facing temporary disqualification from the national sports team.

Speaking in the senate on Thursday, Culture and Sport Minister Aktoty Rayimkulova said Kazakhstan would be limited to just two weightlifting berths at the 2020 Games -- one for the women's competition and one for the men's -- down from eight at the last games.

“The doping scandals played their role” in the decision of the International Weightlifting Federation, Rayimkulova said.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Iran, India and Russia have also seen their weightlifting berths reduced in the measure to clean up the sport under pressure from the International Olympic Committee.

The anti-doping legislation had already been approved in Kazakhstan's lower house and will become law when signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Two athletes who failed doping tests and were forced to return gold medals won in Beijing and London represented Kazakhstan at the International Weightlifting Championships in Thailand in September.

Neither Zulfiya Chinshanlo, who lifted a women's world record in London that was later rescinded over the positive test, nor Ilya Ilyin, who scored golds in both Olympics, won medals at the tournament.