Clean Russian Weightlifter Oleg Chen Reflects on Rio Ban

The International Weightlifting Federation's (IWF) last-minute decision to ban the entire Russian team from Rio not only removed several Olympic medal contenders, but also banned weightlifters who had never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in or out of competition. Oleg Chen (RUS, M69) is one of those lifters.

'I learned we were disqualified on the news'


Just a few days before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games, the IWF banned all Russian weightlifters from competing when WADA released a report that detailed widespread, state-supported doping in many Russian sports.

null

Nov 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oleg Chen, from Russia competes in the men's 69 kg A division during the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA

Since the report came out so close to the start of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to make a blanket decision on all Russian sports, and instead passed the responsibility to each individual sport's international governing body.

I learned we were disqualified on the news.

"If the IWF wanted to remove us, they should have done it earlier, and not right before the Olympics," Chen said. The two-time silver medalist at IWF World Championships, two-time European champion, and former podium favorite heading into Rio told FloElite he learned he and the entire Russian team were disqualified while watching the news.

Emotional and Financial Fallout


The scandal came to light in November of 2015 when a WADA-sanctioned, independent commission released a report about doping in Russia's track and field program, which made the Russian weightlifting team's remaining weeks before the 2015 IWF World Championships rather stressful.

"The doping rumors had a very bad effect on our team, and everyone was worried that we would not be able to participate in the competition," Chen said. "But we just kept training for the Olympic Games."

When the news broke that Russia's team would be completely scratched from competition in Rio, Chen, who was poised to compete--and potentially medal--in his first Olympics, went from worried to heartbroken. "I worked so hard for this all my life. My dream was close, and it was denied."

null

Nov 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Podium winners, gold medalist ,Zhiyong Shi, from China , silver medalist Oleg Chen, from Russia and Daniyar Ismayilov, from Turkey competes on the podium in the overall in the men's 69 kg A division during the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The fallout isn't just emotional. The Russian weightlifting team is financially supported by the government, but they only get paid if they compete.

Although he hasn't been able to motivate himself to train since the ban, Chen said his career is far from over. "I think some of the (other Russian weightlifters) will finish their careers, but I will still continue to train. I haven't yet fully realized my potential in weightlifting. I don't feel satisfied."

Now Streaming: FloFilms 24/7

'FloFilms 24/7' is a non-stop LIVE channel for you to enjoy all of our best original films and docu-series across the entire FloSports network.

Join the United In Movement Fitness Challenge For A Cause

This Friday, the CrossFit community is banding together for United in Movement, a fitness challenge created to raise relief funds to support small businesses, gyms, and humanitarian efforts affected by COVID-19.

The 2020 Granite Games Has Been Postponed

The 2020 Granite Games has been postponed.  More details about the rescheduled event to come.  See the Granite Games postponement statement here.

CrossFit Games Athletes Are Supporting the Community During Coronavirus

There has been no bigger situation that has affected the entire world in recent years like the COVID-19 pandemic has. The lives of many people throughout the world has been affected because of either social distancing or complete shutdowns, depending on where they live.

The 2020 Madrid CrossFit Championship Has Been Postponed

The 2020 Madrid CrossFit Championship has been postponed.  More details about the rescheduled event to come.

West Coast Classic Is Postponed Due To Coronavirus

The 2020 West Coast Classic is postponed due to coronavirus.  See the event's update below:

West Coast Classic Promises Elite Action, Nostalgia, And Community

We’re just a couple weeks away from kicking off the first-ever West Coast Classic. The 3-day fitness festival is set to go down March 20th-22nd in Del-Mar, California, live on FloElite.

More Games Spots Are Up For Grabs On Two Different Continents

The Sanctional schedule takes a new turn on the first weekend of March. There are not one but two competitions taking place this weekend on opposite ends of the globe. Queensland, Australia, will be hosting the Australian CrossFit Championships while over in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we have the 2020 Brazil CrossFit Championship. These two events are just as important as any of the others in determining who will be a part of the 2020 CrossFit Games. Here’s what you need to know about both.

Toomey, Vellner Back-To-Back Wodapalooza Champs, Mayhem Freedom Claim Title

Wodapalooza 2020 is officially a wrap. Let’s talk about what went down on the fourth and final day of competition and who’s walking away with the CrossFit Games invites. The Elite individuals and teams competed two events on the Sunday. The first event, ‘Down-Up,’ put athletes through a brutal couplet of heavy deadlifts and bar-facing burpees. The second and final event of the day, ‘Celebrate Life,’ was a chipper that required high-power output and sound strategy. 

Day 3 Wodapalooza Recap: Sager, Toomey & Mayhem Freedom Lead The Way

It’s hard to believe but we are already through three days of competition at Wodapalooza 2020. Just one day and two events remain before we find out who our 2020 Wodapalooza champions are and who will be earning their ticket to the 2020 CrossFit Games. While the elites only competed in two events today, a lot has happened during those three events that we need to recap heading into the final day.