Olympic Athletes Tossed for Drugs

A Bulgarian weightlifting medalist and a hammer thrower from Belarus tested positive for banned drugs at the Sydney Olympics, the first doping cases from the Summer Games.

The International Olympic Committee said today (Tuesday night ET) that it had stripped the silver medal in the 56-kilogram weightlifting class from Ivan Ivanov, who tested positive for a diuretic.

Ivanov kissed his barbell after he had clinched the medal Saturday, the first full day of competition. 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.

The other athlete was Vadim Devyatovsky, a weight thrower from Belarus, who tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in an out-of-competiotion test in the athletes’ village, IOC executive board member Kevan Gosper said.

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

Details were to be announced later in the day at an IOC news conference.

First at the Games

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.

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 20 positives since last April.