This is some ‘heavy’ news. Two Bulgarian weightlifters were banned for life while the other nine members of the Bulgarian weightlifting Olympic team were penalized with four-year bans. The International Weightlifting Federation recently imposed the bans according to the state agency for youth and sports (DAMS).

The two weightlifters, Georgy Markov and Alan Tsagaev, received lifetime bans since it was their second doping infringement. All the 11 athletes tested positive for the anabolic steroid methandienone in early June, ahead of the Olympics in Beijing.  The Associated Press reported that incident, excerpts below.

Bulgarian weightlifters will have to wait a lot longer to compete in the Olympics.
In the latest scandal to affect the sport before the Beijing Games, the Bulgarian weightlifting team withdrew from the upcoming Olympics after 11 of its athletes tested positive for a steroid.

Eight members of the men’s team and three women tested positive during out-of-competition checks on June 8-9, a federation statement said Friday.

“As a result, the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation took a decision to withdraw its national weightlifting teams — men and women — from participation in the Olympics,” the statement said.

Bulgaria’s federation said the male athletes who tested positive were Ivailo Filev, Demir Demirev, Mehmed Fikretov, Ivan Stoitsov, Georgi Markov, Ivan Markov, Alan Tsagaev and Velichko Cholakov. The women were Milka Maneva, Donka Mincheva and Gergana Kirilova.
The federation took the action without waiting for the results of backup tests. It also said it was “theoretically possible” that the substance could have been ingested accidentally as part of a food supplement, or that the athletes’ food could have been spiked.

Because of the incident, the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation was also asked to pay a $US465,000 ($A583,000) fine to the IWF.

DAMS held a meeting to discuss measures to overcome the crisis, stating that “weightlifting is one of our most successful sports that has brought numerous medals, titles and fame to Bulgaria”. The agency ultimately decided to cut state funding to the national weightlifting federation.

Bulgarian’s weightlifting representatives had already been involved in major doping controversies in the past. In two Olympic Games in 1988 and 2000, held in Seoul and Sydney respectively, the weightlifters were pulled from the games because they tested positive for illegal compounds.