A Moldovan doctor was banned from exercising for life after found guilty of causing doppelgangers to give drug test samples under the names of real weightlifters en route to the world championships.
The International Testing Agency (ITA) announced Thursday that Dorin Balmus was representing three Moldovan athletes in 2015 when they were asked to provide samples just before they were to compete in the World Championships in Houston.
The ITA said three doppelgangers assumed the identities of the weightlifters because they “each went through a doping cycle” and risked testing positive. All three were able to compete in the world championships, but were later banned from drugs.
Lifelong doping bans are rare in sport, but the ITA decided it was appropriate for Balmus “given the nature and severity of the rule violations”.
The deception later came to light in an ARD documentary from 2020. The film also covered doping cover-ups and financial irregularities at the International Weightlifting Federation that led to the resignation of longtime President Tamas Ajan.
The World Anti-Doping Agency claimed last year that the practice of using scammers to test for weightlifting was widespread, saying it looked at 18 cases of “suspected urine substitution” in six countries. DNA testing can determine if a sample matches others given by the same athlete.