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Seven weightlifters in drug bans

Nan Aye Khine was sent home earlier this week after a positive test
Olympics 2004
International Olympic Committee

ATHENS, Greece -- The International Weightlifting Federation said on Thursday it had suspended two more weightlifters who failed out of competition drugs tests, bringing the total number to seven.

IWF chief Tamas Ajan said a female athlete from Myanmar competing in the 48-kg category and an Indian female athlete, whose weight category was not revealed, had tested positive to anabolic steroids and diuretics respectively.

"Weightlifting has to survive the present situation but we have to do everything to have a clean weightlifting sport," Ajan told reporters.

"The problem of doping spreads beyond weightlifting and can be centred around some foreign coaches who will go to different countries in order to make model competitors."

He added: "We could be digging our own grave."

Earlier the IWF had announced Wafa Ammouri of Morocco, Victor Chislean of Moldova, Zoltan Kecskes of Hungary, Pratima Kumari of India and Shabaz Sule of Turkey had all failed IWF doping tests before competition at the Athens Olympics, testing positive to anabolic steroids.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the lifters had failed tests since July 30, prior to competing in the Games.

Myanmar's Nan Aye Khine was expelled from the Olympics this week following a positive test for a banned steroid, after finishing fourth in the 48kg event.

Davies said. "The IOC will follow the procedure to remove the athletes' accreditations."

Ammouri and Kecskes were to have lifted Wednesday, but were scratched just before their competitions.

Kecskes was on the start list distributed to the media less than an hour before he was to have lifted, but did not compete, with no explanation offered.

The pre-competition screenings were carried out by the international federation outside the Olympic testing program conducted by the IOC.

The news was welcomed by IOC president Jacques Rogge.

"The IOC praises the work and determination of the weightlifting federation in its fight against doping by testing its athletes on a systematic basis according to its rules," he said in a statement.

IWF President Tamas Ajan said the sport was determined to expose drugs cheats. "After these games we will find means to be even tougher as we fight to rid the sport of this scourge," Ajan said.

Latest setback

The cases are the latest setback for a sport plagued by cheating athletes during the last two Summer Games.

It threatens to overshadow some exceptional performances on the lifting stand as, just as in the 2000 Games in Sydney, the cheaters are beginning to overshadow the record-beaters.

Embarrassed by four failed tests at the 2000 Sydney Games -- three that cost Bulgarians medals -- the IWF tried to crack down on cheating earlier this year by banning three Bulgarians well before the games began.

The IWF oversees weightlifting worldwide and is responsible for regulating the sport at the Olympics.

Olympic champion Galabin Boevski was banned for eight years and Bulgarian teammates Zlatan Vanev and Georgi Markov drew 18-month suspensions that barred them from competing in Athens.

The IWF said the three tampered with their doping tests nine months ago at the 2003 world championships in Vancouver by submitting urine samples that came from the same person.

All three were among the world's top weightlifters: Boevski was an Olympic champion and Markov and Vanev were world champions. IWF president Tamas Ajan said Boevski received a longer ban because it was his second failed test since 1995.

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