Bulgaria pays fine to lift weightlifting doping ban

The country’s weightlifting federation says it paid a USD 250,000 fine.

Representative Image: The fine allows Bulgaria to send 21 athletes to the European Youth Weightlifting Championships in Milan.   -  AP

Bulgaria’s weightlifting federation said on Friday that it had paid a USD 250,000 (EUR 214,000) fine to lift a doping ban on its team competing internationally. The ban was imposed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in mid-2015 after Bulgaria’s entire team of eleven athletes tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid that stimulates increased muscle tissue.

Bulgaria’s federation said at the time that it was not aware that the long-banned substance was part of a food additive used by its athletes for recovery. It also launched a court battle at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to overturn the ban from the 2016 Rio Olympics and lower the 500,000-dollar fine initially imposed by the IWF.

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The court ruled in December 2015 to halve the fine.

Notorious

Settling the fine allows Bulgaria to send 21 athletes to the European Youth Weightlifting Championships in Milan, Italy, from July 22-28, the federation said, adding that the fine was paid thanks to sponsorship contracts and donations.

Bulgaria has been a world power in weightlifting since Communist times but the sport worldwide has also been notorious for its doping scandals. The country pulled its whole team from the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was expelled from the 2000 Sydney Games after its medal winners failed doping tests.

Bulgaria also saw all its athletes banned ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which also forced it to withdraw.

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