Kamen Plochev, Chairman of the National Doping Control Commission with the State Agency for Youth and Sports, in an interview with Focus News Agency.
FOCUS: Mr Plochev, will “B” samples of Bulgarian weightlifters be opened? What is lifters’ future from now on?
Kamen Plochev: The Doping Control Commission decided that the best option is to open the “B” samples. This will happen in a month at the earliest in Cologne. Until then weightlifters have the right neither to train, nor to participate in competitions. Once the result of the “B” samples comes back positive, the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation will have to penalize its competitors and the State Agency for Youth and Sports will impose financial and administrative sanctions on the Federation. It is likely that the Federation will have its financial subsidies suspended and its licenses taken away for two years. The Doping Control Commission has unanimously decided that the Federation will have to be penalized in compliance with the law and despite the hard situation we are in.
FOCUS: Will Bulgaria have a “B” weightlifting team at the Olympics?
Kamen Plochev: The Weightlifting Federation will be included in the Olympic team. If the Federation decides that it has competitors ready for the Olympics, the Commission will allow them to participate. However, everything depends on the International Weightlifting Federation – whether it will punish the Bulgarian Federation and if it does, what the punishment will be.
FOCUS: Will Bulgaria have a representative at the opening of the “B” samples?
Kamen Plochev: The samples will be opened in about a month. Bulgaria will have representatives in Cologne and they will hear the decision on the spot. I hope it will be in our favor.
FOCUS: When there are so many lifters who have tested positive for doping, the practice is to pay a fine. Can Bulgaria pay a possible fine? It is rumored the fine will be around EUR 1 million.
Kamen Plochev: If the “B” samples are positive indeed, the International Weightlifting Federation could impose a fine. The Commission cannot make such a decision.
FOCUS: Is doping control tightened in Bulgaria?
Kamen Plochev: The budget of the Doping Control Commission was increased last year. Its ambition is to send only “clean” competitors to the Olympic Games. All competitors will be tested several times. We have taken the “cluster” method. First we test three or four competitors in one team; then we test another team; then a third one and finally we get back to the first one. The procedure was the same in weightlifting. We tested the team in April and they were clean. In May the World Anti-Doping Agency checked them and they were clean again. In June, unfortunately, they tested positive.
FOCUS: Are you worried about other cases with Bulgarian athletes?
Kamen Plochev: I have always been worried. Everyone is prone to abuses. I will cite an athlete: “If I have to be equal to the others, I have to take doping.” It seems temptations and ambitions are too many and go beyond the logic of common sense.
FOCUS: What amount of funding has been allotted to the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation for these Olympics?
Kamen Plochev: About BGN 5 million for a period of four years. This is not a secret.
FOCUS: Will the leadership of the Federation be penalized?
Kamen Plochev: If the “B” samples are positive, the technical personnel will be punished. The first punishment will be suspension of subsidies. The second one is suspension of the license. The third one is administrative, with the President and coaches being penalized. The team’s doctor will not get away with it as well.