The Kazakhstan athlete smashed a clean and jerk world record that had stood for 15 years with his final lift of the competition to take gold ahead of China’s Li Xiaojun.
However, the rapid improvement of Rahimov’s performances since returning from a two-year drugs ban in 2015 have raised eyebrows, with bronze medallist Mohamed Mahmoud of Egypt claiming that the result of the competition may yet change.
“Maybe after some doping controls, some things will change,” Mahmoud said. “In a very short time it [Rahimov’s improvement] cannot happen like that.”
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The controversy comes on the back of a doping epidemic in Kazakhstan weightlifting, with retested samples from four goal medalists at the 2012 Olympics among those to test positive. And the country was almost banned from competing in Rio, with the International Weightlifting Federation saying that only a lack of processing time preventing the organisation from blocking Kazakh lifters from competing.
Rahimov was banned in 2013 after testing positive when competing for Afghanistan and has not been subjected to pre-competition testing by his new country due to the Kazakhstan drug lab being suspended.
However, he puts his gains down to an extreme training regime in the build-up to the games.
“When normal people were asleep, we were training,” Rahimov said. “When the snow was deep you know how it is in Kazakhstan we went out for training at 11 or 12pm.”
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