SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian weightlifting suffered another blow on Friday when European youth champion Dayana Dimitrova was banned for life after a second doping offence since April 2017, the Balkan country's federation said on Friday.
The life ban for the 18-year-old, who won the European women's title in the 48-kg category in Poland last month, comes as Bulgaria struggles to restore its reputation in a sport already under fire over widespread doping offences.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has threatened to remove weightlifting from the Paris 2024 Games if it fails to improve its record, and the sport remains on probation.
The Bulgarian weightlifting federation said Dimitrova had used a banned diuretic while training privately. Her coach said she had used the drug to lose weight before the competition in Poland.
Dimitrova, who served a six-month ban after a positive doping test just before the youth world championships in Thailand in April 2017, had been training separately and refused to join national team training camps.
"We will react pointedly to any attempts for amateur activity of personal trainers and therefore we will continue to insist on centralized training in national teams as a way of strictly controlling the medical rehabilitation of competitors and of taking responsibility," the federation said in a statement.
The International Weightlifting Federation has adopted a tougher anti-doping policy this year under which repeat-offender nations can be banned outright from the Olympics.
Following repeated bans for doping, Bulgarian weightlifters returned to international competition in July after the domestic federation paid a $250,000 (195,832.68 pounds) IWF fine.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Hugh Lawson)