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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Bulgarian lifters sent home
Bulgaria's entire weightlifting team has been thrown out of the Sydney Olympics after two more of its medallists were disqualified for doping.
The International Weightlifting Federation applied the sanction under its "three strikes and out rule" whereby a national federation is suspended for at least 12 months if three of its lifters test positive in a calendar year.
Izabela Dragneva, gold medal winner in the women's 48 kg category, and men's 62 kg bronze medallist Sevdalin Minchev were stripped of their medals and kicked out of the Games after positive tests for the banned diuretic furosemide.
On Wednesday, men's 56 kg silver medallist Ivan Ivanov met the same fate after also testing positive for furosemide.
"There are some athletes that did not want to learn the lessons. They are learning the hard way now," said International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard.
IWF rules allow a federation to avoid suspension by paying a $50,000 fine, as Romania did this week to stay at the Games.
Six doping cases involving weightlifters have already hit the Sydney Games.
Three Bulgarian medallists plus two Romanians and one Taiwanese lifter all failed pre-Olympic tests.
IWF vice-president Sam Coffa said Bulgaria should not be given the choice of paying a fine.
"Anyone who brings this much darkness to us on a world stage should forfeit the right to be members of our community," said Coffa, an Australian.
"It's time for us to get tough and if we have to be bastards we have to be bastards," he said.
Diuretics can be used by weightlifters to decrease weight before competition or to mask the presence of other banned substances. Furosemide is a relatively primitive diuretic.
"When athletes use a product that is well known, it is a bit stupid," said IOC medical commission chairman Prince Alexandre de Merode.
Dragneva, 29, became the first gold medal winner in Sydney to be branded a drugs cheat.
On Sunday, she had made history as the first woman to win a weightlifting event at an Olympics.
Silver medallist Tara Nott of the United States was awarded Dragneva's gold and Raema Lisa Rumbewas of Indonesia the silver. Indonesia's Sri Indriyani moved up to bronze.
Minchev's bronze went to fourth-placed Gennady Oleshchuk of Belarus.
Nott said she was "kind of in shock" after learning she had moved up to gold.
"I would obviously want to win the gold on the platform but it's good to know that those who cheat are getting caught," she said.
"It will mean that some day we will have a level playing field and myself and the others will be able to win on the platform rather than after a drug test."
Meanwhile, two Bulgarian-born weightlifters representing Qatar at the Olympic Games have withdrawn from the competition citing health reasons, tournament officials said.
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