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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | NOTES

Lifters Reinstated After Fine Is Paid

September 19, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

A day after the entire team was banned for drug violations, five "clean" Romanian weightlifters were reinstated for the Sydney Games on Monday when their Olympic committee agreed to pay a $50,000 fine.

The case of the Romanian weightlifting team was embroiled in confusion for much of the day, with the IOC and international and national federations in apparent conflict.

On Sunday, the International Weightlifting Federation announced the seven-person Romanian team had been banned after two lifters tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in out-of-competition controls prior to the games.

A third Romanian lifter had failed a test earlier this year and was left off the team.

The IWF said it was invoking its "three-strikes-and-out" policy under which a national federation is suspended for a year in the event of three positive cases over 12 months.

But the IWF overturned its decision Monday, reinstating the five lifters who had not failed tests. IWF rules allow national federations to avoid a team-wide ban by paying a $50,000 fine.

The money was put up by Ion Tiriac, the former tennis star who is now president of Romania's national Olympic committee.

"I am not going to punish those who are not guilty for the ones that are guilty," Tiriac said. "For the athletes that worked for four years--I have no right to say, 'Because someone else did wrong, you are going to be punished.' "

Earlier in the day, International Olympic Committee medical director Patrick Schamasch said Romania couldn't buy its way back.

Amid the confusion, Marioara Munteanu--one of the "clean lifters" who had been banned Sunday--competed Monday in the 116 1/2-pound competition, finishing seventh.

Meanwhile, one of the banned lifters, Adrian Mateas, has threatened suicide on the weightlifting platform if he is not cleared.

"Adrian announced he planned to enter the platform and make a suicide attempt in front of the spectators if he is not allowed to compete," Nicu Vlad, president of Romanian weightlifting, said.

Traian Ciharean, the other banned lifter, walked out of the athletes village and is missing, team spokesman Alex Epuran said. Ciharean had refused to return home on a flight booked by his country's Olympic committee and left Monday night.

*

For the tight-knit U.S. Olympic track cyclists, the death of road racer and friend Nicole Reinhart in a race in the U.S. was stunning.

Still, they had no choice but to go out and race themselves.

"It's the Olympic Games. You have to stay focused," said sprint rider Marty Nothstein of Trexlertown, Pa., a working-class community in eastern Pennsylvania where kids race from an early age at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome.

Reinhart, who lived in Mertztown, Pa., was one of the children who learned to race at T-Town, as the community is known within the sport. She died Sunday after crashing into a tree at a road race in Boston.

Some five hours later in Sydney, Nothstein and Tanya Lindenmuth, another Trexlertown rider, competed in the Olympics.

The Americans racing in the team pursuit event were told of Reinhart's death before they rode, but U.S. Cycling officials didn't tell Nothstein and Lindenmuth until after their sprint prelims.

"We had no choice but to tell them at some point early in the day," said Sean Petty, director of the U.S. team. "It was all over the Internet. People starting calling me at 5:30 in the morning."

It turned out Nothstein already knew. He had heard about it before leaving the apartment he's renting in Sydney.

"I couldn't stop thinking about her on my ride to the velodrome," he said. "I really couldn't believe it."

Lindenmuth, who came up with Reinhart through cycling's junior circuit over the past six years, wasn't told until she went for drug testing after her morning qualifying race.

"It was a good time and a good place to tell me," she said. "I was able to compose myself before I came back out to the track."

*

A man was arrested in connection with allegedly stolen Olympic athlete security passes in a case that briefly kept Olympic hero Ian Thorpe and others from the Olympic Village.

Acting Sgt. David Rose of New South Wales state police said a 33-year-old man was arrested in connection with the alleged theft of athlete accreditation passes from the Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Center in the Sydney suburb of Redfern.

He was interviewed by police and will be given summonses alleging eight offenses of stealing, officials said.

Police would not say what if any involvement the man had with the Olympics, such as an organizing committee employee or a volunteer.

Thorpe was briefly stopped from entering the Olympic Village because his security pass had become invalidated. But he was easily recognized and not delayed long.

Officials said there was no unauthorized access to the tightly controlled village.

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