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Olympic weightlifters banned in Bulgaria

June 27, 2008 at 9:57 PM   |   Comments

SOFIA, Bulgaria, June 27 (UPI) -- The Bulgarian Olympic Committee announced Friday the entire national weightlifting team would be withdrawn from the upcoming Beijing Games.

Bulgarian officials said 11 athletes had tested positive for steroid use this month.

It is the latest in a long line of drug scandals for the Bulgarians, who rank second behind only the former Soviet Union in the number of Olympic weightlifting medals won.

Two Bulgarian weightlifters were kicked out of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul for drug use. In Sydney eight years ago, a Bulgarian tested positive in each of the first three weightlifting events, prompting the entire team to leave the Olympics in disgrace.

Among those who tested positive this month was Velichko Cholakov, who won a bronze medal in the heavyweight class in Athens.

The International Weightlifting Federation said 40 world-class competitors in the sport have been suspended this year for drug use. That does not include the Bulgarians, but does include 11 Greeks who tested positive in March.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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