CAIRO (Reuters) - A doping scandal in Egyptian weightlifting deepened on Friday when the national anti-doping committee said five further Egyptian weightlifters, including three females, had tested positive during local championships in Alexandria last March.
Committee chief Osama Ghoneim told Reuters that five samples had been taken from three female, and two male, weightlifters at the Egyptian Cup in late March in the port city.
“The tests showed traces of banned substances and the five were suspended temporarily until the completion of hearings,” Ghoneim said.
“We are currently conducting the hearings and they have been summoned. But some of them failed to attend the investigation and we gave them 10 more days to attend or face the consequences.”
Ghoneim said the names of the five and the sanctions would be announced after the hearings. The five face a four-year ban if found guilty.
Egypt faces the possibility of being banned from weightlifting for up to two years by the sport’s governing body after another five teenagers, including two girls aged 14, tested positive for steroids -- a charge the head of the national weightlifting federation has rejected as “a conspiracy”.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) confirmed that the five, and two 20-year-olds, tested positive at the African Youth and Junior Championships in Cairo last December.
The Egyptian anti-doping committee and the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation said they were victims of a plot and an internal investigation by the federation suggested somebody with a grudge had doctored food eaten by the team.
Egyptian organizations have provided no evidence to support a plot and Reuters has not independently been able to confirm their accusations.
Under IWF rules, any country returning three or more positive tests within a year faces a range of sanctions and in serious cases can be suspended from the sport.
Editing by Richard Balmforth