Romanian weightlifters pass second drug test

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The Independent Online

Two Romanian weightlifters who tested positive for a banned substance during the Sydney Olympics have successfully passed a second drug test, the country's weightlifting coach said in Bucharest, today.

Two Romanian weightlifters who tested positive for a banned substance during the Sydney Olympics have successfully passed a second drug test, the country's weightlifting coach said in Bucharest, today.

Three days before the start of the Olympics, Adrian Mateas and Traian Ciharean tested positive for nandrolone, a banned steroid.

In an effort to prove their innocence, the two Romanian weightlifters insisted on taking a second test, which they paid for themselves, going so far as to film themselves producing the samples at the Sydney facility and handing them to the lab employees.

The Romanian Weightlifting Federation was informed Wednesday the second test, taken 12 days after the first, came out negative, said Nicu Vlad, who coaches the Romanian weightlifting team.

Vlad added the Romanians were waiting for a decision from the International Weightlifting Federation on whether to lift lifetime bans on Mateas and Ciharean.

"The fact that the second test came out negative means the first test should have also come out negative," Gabriela Vajaiala, who heads of the Sports Research Center laboratory in Bucharest, told national television. "Nandrolone takes a long time to eliminate from the body ... between three and six months."

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, Mateas said he believed the initial samples sent to the lab had been tampered with.

"We were sabotaged," he said. "I am convinced the International Weightlifting Federation sent to the lab the samples that they wanted to arrive there."

Mateas said he will sue the IWF for his right to compete again and to clear his name.

"We hope to win our lawsuit, and this test result is only the first step," he said.

Following the positive tests, all Romanian weightlifters were disqualified from the Olympics, but the Romanian Olympic Committee President Ion Tiriac paid a dlrs 50,000 fine to reinstate the weightlifters who hadn't tested positive.

Other weightlifters, from Taiwan and Norway, had to pack their bags, too, as drug rumors became as ubiquitous as medal ceremonies, also hitting several athletes in track, rowing, boxing and cycling.

Three Bulgarian weightlifters lost medals - a gold, a silver and a bronze - after testing positive for a diuretic that can mask steroids.

In another controversial drug case, Romania's all-around Olympic gymnastics champion Andreea Raducan, 17, had to return her gold for testing positive for a banned substance she took in a cold medicine.

Raducan last month said she would sue the International Olympic Committee to recover her gold medal.

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