LOCOG Won't Hire Convicted Drugs Cheat

Following inquiries made by Around the Rings, London 2012 withdraws a job offer that had been made to a convicted drugs cheat ...

(ATR) Following inquiries made by Around the Rings, London 2012 CEO Paul Deighton made a sharp U-turn Tuesday to avoid embarrassment for his organization when he withdrew a job offer that had been made to a convicted drugs cheat.

An internal email circulated Monday at LOCOG and seen by Around the Rings revealed that the full-time job of Weightlifting Technical Operations Manager had been awarded to Olympic champion flyweight Sevdalin Marinov.

The 4ft 11in tall, Bulgaria-born "Pocket Hercules" won the 1988 Olympic gold, three world titles and, for Australia, the 1994 Commonwealth Games gold.

Omitted from Marinov’s glowing resume circulated at LOCOG’s Canary Wharf headquarters were his two-year ban for steroid use in 1995 and the lifetime ban he had received when a national coach in Australia in 2003.

The latter ban, for possession and trafficking of banned drugs, was subsequently overturned on appeal.

Sports technical operations managers’ responsibilities at the Olympics include helping to organize drug testing.

The weightlifting post was only advertised by LOCOG last month, and Marinov was due to take up the job Monday.

But LOCOG announced Tuesday evening that Deighton, together with other senior officers, had decided to withdraw the offer.

"LOCOG made a job offer to Sevdalin Marinov for the position of Technical Operations Manager for the weightlifting competition," the statement read. "When the offer came to the attention of LOCOG’s senior management, including the Chief Executive, we decided that this was not an appropriate appointment to make, given the role he will have within the sport competition.

"We have today withdrawn the offer of employment to Mr Marinov, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused."

It seems certain that an internal inquiry will now take place at LOCOG to determine how such a key position could be offered to a drugs cheat.

LOCOG’s statement suggests that the appointment may have been made without consulting senior officers, including chairman Sebastian Coe, a lifelong opponent of doping in sport.

Marinov, 42, is not without friends, and relations, within the sport of weightlifting. Despite his doping history, he was given a coaching role with Australia’s junior weightlifting team after the Sydney Games.

Three months ago, he held a senior position in the organization of the world junior championships staged in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Matthew Curtain, LOCOG’s sports department manager for weightlifting and Paralympic powerlifting, was the chief executive of the Australian Weightlifting Federation when Marinov was investigated by police and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority following a 2003 drugs raid at his home.

And Marinov’s father-in-law is Sam Coffa, Australia’s senior most weightlifting official and current vice president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Earlier this year, Coffa visited London as part of the IWF’s official Games inspection and described the 2012 weightlifting venue at ExCeL as "magnificent".

But the appointment of anyone with a doping conviction directly contradicts the International Olympic Committee’s position. The IOC, a spokesman said Tuesday, "has a clear zero-tolerance for doping".

The British Olympic Association is one of the few national Olympic committees to maintain a life ban from its teams in any capacity – athlete, coach or official – for anyone who has a doping history.

As well as his 1995 positive drug test for steroids, Marinov made headlines again for the wrong reasons in 2003, only avoiding a life ban for trafficking drugs after a four-year legal appeal.

Australian police and anti-doping authorities in 2003 raided a house owned by a member of the national weightlifting squad and occupied in part by Marinov.

In his bedroom, police found 30 pounds of the anabolic steroid stanozolol, plus other powders, labels, vials and pill presses used in the production and sale of banned drugs.

On the top shelf of a wardrobe in Marinov’s bedroom, another three boxes of banned drugs were discovered.

But at a hearing of the Court for Arbitration in Sport in 2007, the former Bulgarian’s legal team maintained that the drugs were present in Marinov’s bedroom without his knowledge or consent.

Marinov said he was unaware of the homeowner’s activities and that he was too short to reach the top shelf of his wardrobe.

In applying for a job at the London Olympics, it appears the Pocket Hercules had overreached himself once again.

Written by Steven Downes in London.