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Drug tests cost Bulgarian his silver medal

Posted: Tuesday September 19, 2000 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday November 09, 2000 11:44 AM

  Ivan Ivanov Ivan Ivanov's case is only the latest in a slew of doping cases announced in Sydney. Patrick Herzog/AFP

SYDNEY, Australia ( - In the first positive drug cases of the Games, a Bulgarian weightlifter was stripped of his silver medal and a hammer thrower from Belarus was kicked out of the Olympics.

Ivan Ivanov, who won the silver in the 56-kilogram (123-pound) weightlifting, was stripped of his medal after testing positive for furosemide, a diuretic, the IOC said.

Ivanov, a gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and former four-time world champion, kissed his barbell after he had clinched the medal Saturday, the first full day of competition.

The other banned athlete was Vadim Devyatovsky, a hammer thrower from Belarus, who tested positive for components of the banned steroid nandrolone in an out-of-competition sample on Sept. 12 in the athletes' village, the IOC said.

Diuretics are used to flush fluid from an athlete's body to reduce weight, but also can be used to mask the presence of other performance-enhancing drugs. Nandrolone builds muscle and helps athletes recover faster in training.

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These were the first athletes banned as a result of tests conducted during the games. Several others had been banned as a result of pre-games tests.

IOC medical commission chairman Prince Alexandre de Merode said the expulsions were ordered on the basis of positive results of the "A" samples. In the past, no sanctions were taken until after the backup "B" sample was tested.

The Bulgarian and Belarussian teams have both asked for the "B" samples to be analyzed.

IOC director general Francois Carrard said Ivanov had already left the Olympic village. Devyatosvsky had been scheduled to start competing Saturday.

With Ivanov stripped of the weightlifting silver, the standings were revised. The original third-place finisher, Wu Wenxiong of China, moved up to take the silver, while China's Zhang Xiangxiang was elevated from fourth place to the bronze.

Carrard said officials were considering arranging a new medal ceremony.

Ivanov, 29, was the Olympic champion at 1141/2 pounds in 1992 in Barcelona. He won gold at the world championships in 1989, '90, '91 and '93.

Devyatovsky, 23, finished second in the hammer at the junior world championships in 1996. This season, he has improved his performance from 251 feet-101/2 inches to 266-11.

The IOC tests were the first drug positives from the games themselves but only the latest in a slew of doping cases announced in Sydney, where more drug tests will be conducted than ever before.

De Merode said 13 athletes have been suspended for failing tests prior and during the games so far.

On Tuesday night, Alexander Bagach of Ukraine, the 1999 world indoor shot put champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist, was suspended by international track officials for testing positive for steroids for a third time.

Simon Kemboi, a member of the Kenyan 1,600-meter relay team, also was suspended for testing positive for steroids.

Neither will be allowed to compete in Sydney.

The ruling council of the International Amateur Athletic Federation announced those suspensions after an eight-hour meeting.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, a new international arm of Olympic sports designed to conduct uniform out-of-competition testing, also reported a positive steroid test to Nigerian 800-meter runner Dupe Osime.

She was among 45 Nigerian athletes initially chosen for the country's provisional Olympic team but was not among the 30 brought to Sydney.

Weightlifting has been filled with pre-games cases. The International Weightlifting Federation kicked out the seven-member Romanian team Sunday because three lifters -- including two on the Olympic team -- had failed drug tests this year.

But the federation lifted the ban on the five "clean" lifters the next day after the Romanian Olympic Committee agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. Such a waiver is included in the IWF's rules.

The decision led to widespread confusion, with the IOC medical director declaring at one point that Romania couldn't buy its way back. Later, after a frantic round of phone calls and meetings, the reinstatement was accepted.

WADA tests have found at least nine suspected positives out of 20 "elevated" results since last April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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