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Bulgarian federation loses licence

Bulgaria’s weightlifting federation was stripped of its licence Wednesday for financial mismanagement and a major doping scandal that saw the country’s best athletes banned, the sports ministry said.

The ministry said it had refused to renew the federation’s licence because it had “breached the anti-doping regulations and sports ethics ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games and marred Bulgaria’s sports prestige.”

The federation was also accused of mismanaging funds.

Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, all eight men and three women on Bulgaria’s preliminary weightlifting squad had tested positive for the anabolic steroid metandienon.

The lifters denied any wrongdoing but the Bulgarian weightlifting federation was forced, for the first time in its history, to pull the whole team from the Games.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) then banned two of the athletes, Georgy Markov and Alan Tsagaev, for life while the other nine received four-year bans.

The federation was also fined 465,000 dollars (324,700 euros), Bulgarian press reporting it had paid that sum to keep its right to compete in international tournaments.

But failure to find well-trained athletes to replace the banned ones has prevented Bulgaria from appearing in major weightlifting competitions ever since.

In order to save the sport, 23 weightlifting clubs from around the country on Tuesday formed an alternative Bulgarian national weightlifting federation, adding they would apply for a licence from the sports ministry and the IWF.

Source AFP