General Secretary of Azerbaijan Weightlifting Federation (AZE WF)-Rizvan Rasulov’s interview to our official website.
– AZE WF has very close cooperation with the Azerbaijan National Anti-Doping Agency (AMADA). A lot of work is underway within this framework, and projects are being implemented, one of which is to take regular doping tests in competition and non-competition situations and to take steps in accordance with the results. How is this process going on, and what will be further steps?
– The work carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other international organizations in order to ensure healthy competition among athletes in the Olympic sports should be regarded as worthy. One of the main means of struggle is disqualification penalties for doping events. Other countries, including Azerbaijan, pay serious attention to the ongoing reforms in weightlifting. International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) is closely interacting with national federations and puts forward a number of challenges in front of them. Today, the fight against doping is the main line of national federations. AZE WF shows a serious attitude to this case. AMADA takes an active part in the issues mentioned above.
– What can you say about the results of tests?
– AMADA sends tests taken by athletes in competition and non-competition situations throughout the year, to the international laboratories. Naturally, as a result of these processes, prohibited substances are founded in the analysis of some athletes. It is noteworthy that, along with international organizations, the National Agency is also responsible for this work. The doping founded in an athlete in competition or non-competition situations is a serious matter. But these are the events that occurred in many sports. The athlete who uses the forbidden substances is defamatory himself, his federation and most importantly his country. However, we are fighting against doping and should not call it a tragedy when such negative circumstances arise. We are doing serious reforms to prevent these incidents. But this fight should not only the work of the federation. All sports organizations engaged in the development of the sport should also take an active part in this.
– What anti-doping prophylactic measures are carried out along with penalties?
– There are conversations with athletes, their coaches and other weightlifting specialists, seminars are organized, maximum effort is made for non-doping activities. This process is painful, it needs time. We want to undermine doping. Doping should not be in weightlifting. We think so. But first, doping should be removed from the brain of some people. Those who cannot go beyond the phrase “without doping cannot succeed” are enough. They do not understand that doping is worthless, and the person who receives it faces problems. It has been proven by recent disqualification decisions. Our task is to implement complex measures.
– What are they?
– We are working closely with AMADA. Over the past year, our weightlifting teams have repeatedly been examined by WADA and AMADA. It should be noted that in 2017, AMADA took 50 tests, of which 35 were out of competition and 15 were in competition. Yes, there are emerging doping samples in them, and neither AMADA nor we disguise it. However, even if someone is aware of this information and communicates it to the public through mass media before the official announcement, he / she fails. It is not a good thing to create sensation, to stigmatize AZE WF. We condemn it. We are a family and problems in the family are inevitable. I consider exaggerating it for specific purposes is not serious step. This doubts the professionalism of some journalists and those who transmit that information. These processes need to be looked at differently. The federation fights against doping and the results are exactly the result of this fight. We quickly reveal these doping cases, removing those guilty athletes or experts from our ranks.
– Even if we have the most powerful athletes …
– All is same, does not matter. We do not need an athlete who wins with doping. We want to go smoothly to the upcoming competitions and show our pure strength. We can do it, be sure. It just needs time. The doping of any athlete is actually a simple matter. In the sense that someone has broken the rules, he\she must be punished. Everything is so simple. We appreciate the work of AMADA. Otherwise, such violations would not be surfaced, then our team will have more problems. There is a lot that we need to do. On December of the last year, IWF sent a letter to us, and put forward some conditions. On December, we participated in the briefing on the criminalization of nine countries in Almaty, we heard additional requests, and we gave a public statement about it. We have very serious obligations. First, we must be transparent to WADA and AMADA, and create the most favorable conditions. Otherwise, the penalty period will not decrease, will increase even more. We are trying to emerge the doping athletes quickly and expel soon. However, we cannot do it alone, we have to cooperate with relevant agencies and we do. This process should not be exaggerated in a bad way, but should be appreciated and it should be noted as a federation’s persistence.
– Last year our athletes’ performances at international competitions showed that it is possible to succeed without doping.
– Quite right. We felt proximity to the high results in the World Junior Championship in Japan, European Junior Championship in Albania, last year. We could prove once more the possibility of success without doping when we got a license taking the 9th place in the team account, in World Youth Championship held in Thailand to the Olympic Youth Games to be held in Argentine, as well as when our team was European champion in the medal account in European Youth Championship, in Kosovo. As a result, in 2017, we won 27 medals (8 + 8 + 11) in different attempts and 13 (4 + 3 + 6) medals in total, in the European Championship among youth and juniors and generally in international tournaments. In addition, our youth have set 7 European records. In all of these competitions, WADA took a doping test from our athletes and had no “positive” result. I think there is no need to comment.
– But information on doping is purposefully directed to the wrong direction, the work done is obscured, different opinions are formed. What is your attitude to this?
– It is simply shameful to exaggerate and manipulate doping issues, to oppose the federation, its work, and stigmatize. Shame on you! İt is advisable for those, who want to prevent us from doing so, should put aside these “fights” and talk about the raising of the athletes’ condition, speak on the work for their improvement, increase the number of athletes in their area and work more closely with them. The idea is that 62% of participants in Azerbaijan Championships among juniors and youth and 68% of participants Azerbaijan Seniors Championship have been the athletes of “Zirve” International Sports Club. It suggests that the leaders and experts of other sports organizations should seriously think on it. Today, the federation suffers from the “case” carried out in 2008 and 2012. This one year disqualification is the “fruit of the times”. Today, Azerbaijan Weightlifting Federation says “No” to the acceptance of prohibited substances, the artificial increase of the results, and reception large amounts of money and other rewards from federation and to the specialists who have been punished by international organizations and eventually do not see the crime on themselves.
– What are your plans for the nearest future?
– At present, 35 weightlifters take part in the regular training-camp sessions that started in December 2017. In the nearest future, we plan to increase this number. Our main goal is the Summer Youth Olympic Games to be held in Argentine, on October this year and World Championship for 2020 Tokio Summer Olympic Games among men and women in Turkmenistan. At the same time, in the direction of strengthening the material-technical base, it is envisaged to equip the training halls of sport organizations with weightlifting equipment, to increase the number of halls (the completion of two gyms in Sumgait and Baku getting over). Within the framework of anti-doping events, we have planned to organize regular internal seminars for coaches, referees and other professionals, as well as international anti-doping seminars all year round.