SUVA, (FIJI TV) -The General Secretary of the Oceanic Weightlifting Federation says the 15 competitors representing the region at next month’s Rio Olympics won’t be facing a level playing field.
Paul Coffa said despite the natural talent of the Pacific lifters, they would will be up against some athletes who have been banned for drug cheating in the past, so they could only achieve so much.
“The Oceania region hasn’t had anyone positive for years and years, whereas the rest of the world in our sport, produces positive (tests) year after year,” he said.
“When you go to these Games, whether it’s the Commonwealth Games or wherever, we find people people still cheating and that’s wrong. We know that certain countries don’t play the game fair.”
Coffa said competitors from the Pacific probably won’t win medals at Rio because they are drug-free.
He said the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where Pacific athletes bagged eight medals including three golds and New Zealand and Australia won six more medals, showed the region had the ability to compete with the best.
However he said it was terrible for the 15 OWF representatives to know what is happening but not being able to do anything about it.
“For example at these games coming up, I think about 10, 12, a dozen lifters, most of them from Europe, are competing and those ones who were found positive a couple of years ago (or three) now they have gone over their sanctions and they’re eligible to compete again and they are” Coffa said.
“But deep inside you know that they were disqualified and if you are disqualified it means you’ve done something wrong.”
Paul Coffa’s comments came after the International Olympic Committee opted against a blanket ban on Russian athletes for the Games despite evidence of state-sponsored doping of their competitors at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Coffa also said the preparations of Pacific lifters were always hampered by a lack of facilities and regular competition.