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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | WEIGHTLIFTING

Nott Lifted to Gold by Bulgarian DQ; Haworth Wins Super-Heavy Bronze

September 22, 2000|ALAN ABRAHAMSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — U.S. weightlifter Tara Nott's golden moment arrived today. And while she basked in the spotlight, the sport once again was mired in disgrace.

Five days after Nott competed, she was declared the winner of the women's flyweight class. A Bulgarian who had lifted the most on Sunday was disqualified after flunking a drug test.

A Bulgarian who had won bronze in the men's featherweight class was also kicked out today for doping. Earlier in the week, a Bulgarian who had taken silver in the men's bantamweight division was expelled. All three tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide, which can mask the presence of steroids.

The latest shameful episodes involving Bulgarian cheating once again cast doubt over the future of lifting as an Olympic event--and overshadowed today's competition, including the women's super-heavyweight competition, in which American Cheryl Haworth took bronze, behind China's Ding Meiyuan and Poland's Agata Wrobel.

The International Olympic Committee announced early today that Izabela Dragneva, the original gold medalist in the women's flyweight class, as well men's featherweight bronze medalist Sevdalin Minchev Angelov had tested positive for furosemide.

Both were ordered to return their medals and leave the Olympic Village. Men's lifting has long been stained by drugs. Women's lifting is making its debut in the Olympics at the Sydney Games.

"When athletes are using this product, they are getting stupid," said Prince Alexandre de Merode, who heads the IOC's medical commission.

The International Weightlifting Federation maintains a "three strikes and out" rule--and, after a hurriedly convened meeting, it announced this afternoon that the Bulgarians were suspended from all international competition for at least one year. Three Bulgarians who had yet to lift at the Games will not be allowed to compete.

In Sunday's competition in the women's flyweight division Dragneva, 28, had lifted a combined total in the snatch and clean-and-jerk of 190 kilos, or 418 pounds.

Nott, of Stilwell, Kan., lifted a combined total of 185 kilos, or 407 pounds.

In the snatch the bar is lifted straight overhead in one motion. In the clean-and-jerk, it is lifted first to the collarbone, then overhead.

The division is for women under 48 kilos, or 105 1/2 pounds--meaning Nott lifted nearly four times her body weight. Her gold is the first in weightlifting for the United States since 1960.

"It was just starting to sink in that I won the silver, so right now I'm kind of in shock," Nott said today upon hearing that she was now a gold medalist.

"I would obviously want to win the gold on the platform, but it's good to know that those who cheat are getting caught. It will mean that someday we will have a level playing field, and myself and others will be able to win on the platform rather than after a drug test."

Haworth, 17, of Savannah, Ga., had been hailed before the Games as one of the American team's best medal hopes--even though she has been lifting for only four years. She stands 5 feet 9 and today weighed 307 pounds.

She lifted a combined total of 270 kilos, or 590 pounds. Ding lifted a combined 300 kilos, or 660 pounds, for the gold and a world record. Wrobel managed a combined 295 kilos, or 649 pounds, for silver.

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