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Confusion At Lifting Competition

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A Romanian weightlifter competed at the Olympics Monday hours after the IOC said the team could not buy its way back into the competition by paying a fine and having a drug sanction lifted.

IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said there was no way Romania could invoke an International Weightlifting Federation rule allowing it to pay a $50,000 fine for readmission to weightlifting events in Sydney.

The entire Romanian weightlifting team was thrown out of the Sydney Games Sunday after two male lifters tested positive in out-of-competition tests.

But IWF vice president Sam Coffa said later that a high-level meeting of the federation had decided to allow the "clean" Romanian lifters three men and one woman to compete, provided the Romanian Olympic Committee paid the fine.

Marioara Munteanu took her first lift in the 116 1/2-pound competition later Monday.

Coffa, an Australian, said possible IOC reaction was not a factor in the federation's decision.

"As far as we are concerned, we have a rule and that is our rule and we can only abide by it, and what the IOC does is really for them to determine," he said.

The IOC had no immediate comment.

Meanwhile, track officials upheld the two-year suspension of former Olympic 5,000-meter champion Dieter Baumann of Germany.

Baumann, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandralone last Oct. 19 and Nov. 12, had appealed, arguing that he was the victim of a plot when traces of the drug were found in toothpaste he supposedly used.

Traian Ciharean, a bronze medalist at the Barcelona Olympics, and Adrian Mateas failed tests administered to all 257 Olympic weightlifters.

IWF rules dictate that if three athletes return positive doping tests within 12 months, all lifters from that nation are banned from international competition for a year.

Another Romanian lifter tested positive earlier this year.

The Romanian Olympic Committee said in a statement that it was prepared to pay the $50,000 fine, according to IWF statutes, instead of having the team suspended.

But Schamasch rejected the plan.

"A fine never has to replace a suspension or sanction," Schamasch told a news conference. "A fine may be applied but never, ever in substitution to a sports sanction."

Schamasch said the IOC "always respects" the rulings of the international federations but in this case, all Romanian weightlifters would be ejected from the Olympic Village.

"We're very clear - the national Romanian federation is suspended, therefore, the full team is suspended," he said.

A total of nine Olympians have been suspended for drug use found in pre-games tests, including six banned from the athletes' village, Schamasch said.

The village was off limits for a weightlifter from Taiwan, an Iranian boxer, a swimmer from Kazakstan, a weightlifter from Norway and the two weightlifter from Romania.

The other three, two Egyptian wrestlers and a wrestler from Morocco, were suspended before they arrived at the village. All were the result of out-of-competition tests.

Since last April, when it started testing, WADA has caught 20 athletes using banned drugs.

On Sunday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that the Romanian weightlifters and an Iranian boxer had tested positive for the steroid Nandrolone.

The International Amateur Boxing Federation identified the Iranian fighter as Anoushirvan Nourian, who was entered in the 139-pound class.

Most cases were resolved before the games, with athletes either being removed from their teams or failing to qualify for the Olympics, WADA spokesman Casey Wade said.

At least four other weightlifters have been tossed out of the Olympics for failing pre-games drug tests: Stian Grimseth of Norway, and Chen Po-pu, world champion Chen Jui-lien and Wu Mei-yi of Taiwan. Also sent home was Taiwan coach Tsai Wen-yee.

Schamasch said the fact that so many weightlifters had been caught for out-of-competition doping offenses was proof the international federation was taking a strong stance against drugs.

WADA has conducted more than 2,043 urine tests involving 27 summer sports in 82 nations prior to the games.

IOC medical teams already have conducted 291 urine tests and 189 recently approved tests for EPO in Sydney, with no positive results so far, Schamasch said. Overall, the IOC expects to conduct 2,000 in-competition tests during the 16-day games at an average cost of $600 per test.


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