Sofia: The Bulgarian weightlifting team will not take part in the upcoming European championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, after eleven athletes tested positive for doping, the Bulgarian federation announced on Saturday.
Eight men and three women returned positive results for doping during tests carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) two weeks ago.
The continental championships are due to begin on April 11.
The anabolic steroid stanozolol, which stimulates increased muscle tissue, was allegedly put into the athletes meals, claimed their coach Ivan Ivanov.
"All our efforts have been in vain. We were hoping for medals, as well as at the world championships and Olympic Games," the federation president told daily paper Standart.
The athletes now face bans of four years, while four athletes face life bans for a second offence, according to press reports.
A similar scandal marked the Bulgarian weightlifting team in June 2008 ahead of the Beijing Games when a number of athletes tested positive for the banned steroid metandienone.
Two lifters were banned for life by the national federation while nine others, including three women, were suspended for four years and the federation were hit with a fine of 465,000 dollars.