Hidilyn Diaz says self-imposed Thai ban sends good message vs doping
MANILA, Philippines–Thailand was supposed to pose the biggest threat to Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal bid in the Southeast Asian Games.
But they were nowhere to be found when Diaz took Ninoy Aquino Stadium’s stage, and eventually the top prize in the 55-kilogram event last Tuesday night.
A number of Thai weightlifters tested positive for doping by International Weightlifting Federation, prompting the country’s federation to undergo a self-imposed ban.
“I’m glad that they weren’t there because us clean athletes are given an opportunity to represent our countries well,” Diaz said.
“This is an opportunity for (clean athletes) to show that it is possible to compete at a high level without the use of dope or steroids,” she added.
Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan was the biggest thorn to Diaz’s side during the 2017 staging of the Worlds. There, the former swept three events (snatch, clean and jerk, and total) of the 53kg contest; while the latter had to settle for a silver and bronze.
Sukanya Srisurat went on to replicate her compatriot’s sweep the next year. Diaz, during that time, was focusing on the Asian Games, where she struck gold.
According to IWF competition manager Matyas Lencser, Thailand’s move to skip multiple events essentially snuffs their chance at qualifying for the Olympics.
Diaz, for her part, said that the lifestyle of a weightlifter is difficult to maintain, which she thinks is the reason why some athletes turn to performance-enhancing drugs.
“Going through recovery is really tough in this sport,” she said. “We just have to [strive] listening well to our coaches.”
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