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2 More Bulgarian Lifters Fail Tests

September 21, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The United States stood to gain its first weightlifting gold medal since 1960 after officials said two more Bulgarian lifters had tested positive for banned drugs at the Olympics.

Women’s gold medalist Izabela Dragneva _ the first women’s weightlifting champion in Olympic history _ and men’s bronze medalist Sevdalin Minchev were the second and third Bulgarian lifters to test positive for banned diuretics at the Sydney Games.

``Two of the Bulgarian weightlifters used diuretics to lose bodyweight,″ International Weightlifting Federation secretary general Tamas Ajan told The Associated Press. ``This is a forbidden substance. The IOC will disqualify them from the competition.″

The entire Bulgarian weightlifting team might also be kicked out under federation rules. Bulgarian officials also said they might withdraw the rest of their weightlifters from the games, and that could further change the medal standings, since Bulgarians have three more medals since Dragneva and Minchev competed.

Dragneva won the gold in the women’s 105-pound class, ahead of Tara Knott of Stilwell, Kan. The American team was told that Knott will get the gold medal, the first for an American lifter Chuck Vinci won the 123-pound title at the Rome Games 40 years ago.

Women’s weightlifting is being held for the first time in Sydney.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board was meeting to formalize the ouster of Dragneva and Minchev.

``There is no uncertainty about the positive case,″ said Johann Olaf Koss, an athlete member of the IOC and a member of the medical commission, which reviews doping cases. ``The medical commission is making its recommendation now. The doping case is very simple.″

Besides the latest positive tests,. Koss, a speedskating superstar for Norway at the 1994 Winter Games, said the IOC also must consider the overall Bulgarian weightlifting problem.

``The issue is that you have three cases for the same drug in the same sport from the same country,″ he said Friday (Thursday night EDT). ``That’s the big problem.″

IWF rules suspend a nation from international competition for one year if three of its lifters test positive in 12 months.

On Wednesday, Bulgarian lifter Ivan Ivanov was stripped of his silver medal in the 123-pound (56-kilogram) class after testing positive for furosemide, a weight-loss diuretic. Ivanov, a former Olympic and world champion, was the first athlete to fail an in-competition test during the games.

Beltcho Ivanov, secretary general of the Bulgarian national Olympic committee, The two were tested when they entered the Olympic Village and no problems were detected, but after the competition they were both found positive for diuretics, he said early Friday (Thursday EDT).

``It is impossible our athletes took this drug because it is very primitive,″ he said.

Diuretics are used to lose weight but also can be used to mask the presence of other performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids. The most commonly used diuretic is caffeine, which also is on the banned list.

Dragneva won the gold medal in the women’s 106-pound event, in which Nott won the silver. Minchev took the bronze medal in the men’s 137-pound (62 kg) class in which Gennady Oleshchuk of Belarus finished fourth.

Dragneva’s event was the first Olympic medal ever awarded in women’s weightlifting.

Two Romanian weightlifters, Traian Ciharean and Adrian Mateas, were suspended and expelled from the Olympic Village after failing out-of-competition tests.

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