Bulgarian Olympic Gold Medalist Turns to Cocaine Trafficking After Steroid Suspension

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Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting champion Galabin Boevski was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison after being convicted of international drug trafficking. Boevski was arrested on October 25, 2011 at the Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo (Brazil) after attempting to board the plane with eight kilograms of cocaine. Boevski was headed to Bulgaria via Spain where the product was estimated to be valued at $500,000 on the streets of European cities.

Boevski became a national sporting hero in Bulgaria. He is regarded as one of the most celebrated weightlifters in the history of the country. Boevski apparently turned to cocaine trafficking during the time he was serving an eight-year suspension for his second doping violation in 2004. Boevski was caught using anabolic steroids earlier in his career and was suspended in 1995. He has not failed a steroid test since. The 2004 doping violation did not detect any steroids in his urine but anti-doping officials determine that Boevski’s urine sample belonged to someone else.

Boevski won gold medals at the 1999 World Weightlifting Championships in Athens, the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2001 World Weightlifting Championships in Antalya. At the 2003 World Championships in Vancouver, Boevski and his Bulgarian teammates Zlatan Vanev and Georgi Markov were accused of tampering with their urine samples after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded that all three samples submitted belonged to the same person. Boevski unsuccessfully appealed the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) suspension.

Boevski held various world records at various times druing his career including three world records set at the 1999 World Weightlifting World Championships and one world record set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 69 kilogram lightweight weight class. His best lifts were a 162.5 kilogram snatch, and 196.5 kilogram clean and jerk and a 357.5 kilogram combined total of two lifts at the 1999 Championships.

Boevski’s steroid suspensions did not hurt his popularity back home in Bulgaria. He used his sports celebrity status to launch a successful Technogym fitness center in the capital of Bulgaria called Atama Wellness and Spa.

Unfortunately, Brazilian judge Maria Isabel do Prado concluded the Boevski also use his status as a sports celebrity to help smuggle cocaine. She believed Boevski used his daughter’s participation in a Brazilian tennis tournament as the cover for his illicit activities.

Leandro Pereira, the defense attorney for Boevski, has announced that Boevski will appeal the conviction.


Azzoni, T. (May 3, 2012). Bulgarian weightlifter convicted of drug smuggling. Retrieved from–oly.html