12 Olympic athletes have been sanctioned for failing anti-doping tests at the London 2012 Games, with nine of the athletes being weightlifters, the IOC said yesterday.

Of the 12 athletes sanctioned, seven were medal winners in 2012, with six of the medallists competing in weightlifting.

The weightlifters who have been stripped of their medals and/or disqualified from the London 2012 event include Andrey Demanov, Alexandr Ivanov, Nataliya Zabolotnaya (all from Russia), Christina Iovu, Anatoli Ciricu (both Moldova), Hripsime Khurshudyan (Armenia), Iryna Kulesha (Belarus), Rauli Tsirekidze (Georgia) and Almas Uteshov (Kazakhstan), all of whom tested positively for the banned substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (turinabol).

Ivanov also positively tested for tamoxifen, while Khurshudyan, Kulesha, Tsirekidze and Uteshov all tested positively for stanozolol.

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The revelation of these nine weightlifters caught drug cheating will only further tarnish the already scarred image and reputation the sport of weightlifting has within the global sporting landscape.

The six weightlifting medallists who are among the nine athletes who have been sanctioned by the IOC add to the growing number of weightlifting medallists who have been stripped of their London 2012 medals.

With Iovu, Ivanov, Khurshudyan, Kulesha, Zabolotnaya and Ciricu all receiving medals at the London Games, the total number of weightlifters who have had their 2012 Olympic medals stripped has raised to 12, with eight of these medallists coming from the women's events.

The extent of drug cheating within the weightlifting events at the 2012 Olympics can be highlighted by the fact that all three medal winners from the women's 75kg event have now been stripped of their medals, with Zabolotnaya and Kulesha being awarded silver and bronze, while gold medallist Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan had her Olympic title stripped when it was revealed she was one of eight athletes sanctioned for failing drug tests by the IOC last month.

The same circumstances have resulted in a similar outcome in the men's 94kg event, with Ivanov and Ciricu taking the silver and bronze medals in London, while Kazakhstani great Ilya Ilyin broke two world records in the process of taking out the gold medal, only to lose his title in September after having tested positively for performance enhancing drugs.

In fact, the extent of drug cheating in Olympic weightlifting is so extreme that Polish weightlifter Tomasz Zielinski, who finished ninth at the 2012 Games in the men's 94kg event, has claimed the bronze medal after six competitors who finished ahead of him all failed drug tests, even though Zielinski himself was banned from competing at this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after failing a drug test in July.

Iran's Saeid Mohammadpour, who originally finished in fifth place, and South Korea's Kim Min-jae, who was eighth in London, have since been crown the new gold and silver medallists.

Drug cheating within Olympic weightlifting is certainly not confined to just the 2012 Olympics, with 12 of the 45 weightlifting medal winners at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing have been stripped of their medals, while 24 weightlifters in total have been disqualified from the 2008 Games after failing following drug tests.

The other three athletes of the 12 sanctioned by the IOC yesterday includes Ukrainian hammer thrower Oleksandr Drygol, Ukrainian long jumper Margaryta Tverdokhlib, and Russian 3000m steeplechase runner Yuliya Zaripova, who won a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

The IOC, which stores samples for a decade to test with newer methods or to analyse performance-enhancing substances that have yet to be identified, says a total of 98 samples have come back as positive in re-testing from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. It has been naming the guilty athletes and stripping them of their medals where appropriate, in batches.