CAS to rule on Bulgaria Olympics ban by end-January

Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:29am EST
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By Angel Krasimirov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Sport's highest court expects to announce a final decision on Bulgaria's appeal against an Olympics ban on its weightlifters for a string of doping offences by the end of January, it said on Monday.

Last month, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF)said the Balkan country's athletes would be absent from next year's Rio Olympics following a high number of doping cases.

The Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation (BWF), which appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last week, was also fined $500,000.

"The CAS is expected to issue its decision by the end of January 2016," the Swiss-based court said in a statement. "Until then, the qualifications for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will not become final."

Eight male lifters, including three European champions, and three female lifters, tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol during a training camp in Tbilisi, Georgia in March.

Bulgaria found it tough to find suitable replacements for the banned lifters but still competed at the world championship in Houston last month and finished 21st in the team standings.

Bulgaria has already said it is optimistic the Olympics ban will be overturned in time for its lifters to compete at next year's Games.

"Bulgaria's chances of participating in the Olympics are very good because this punishment contradicts existing IWF regulations," the BWF's lawyer Boris Kolev said.   Continued...