SOFIA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has halved the $500,000 fine imposed on the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation (BWF) after 11 lifters tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol in 2015, the Balkan country's governing body said.
BWF turned to CAS after the Black Sea state's weightlifters were barred from last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and also fined by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
"CAS has not accepted the maximum amount requested by the IWF and has only partially met the BWF's arguments that in this case the weightlifters have been victims of negligence," the BWF said in a statement.
The ruling is final and cannot be appealed, the BWF said.
The federation said that three independent laboratory tests, two of which were conducted in Germany, proved that the cause was a contaminated batch of a food supplement, which the lifters used for recovery.
In March 2015, eight male, including three ex-European champions, and three female athletes tested positive at a training camp in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Bulgaria has long been a world powerhouse in weightlifting, winning 12 Olympic titles between 1972 and 2004. Its athletes have also won 79 gold medals at world championships as well as 167 European titles.
Bulgarian weightlifting, however, has suffered repeated embarrassment in recent years due to doping cases and the national organisation was temporarily stripped of its license in 2009.
A year earlier the country withdrew its team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because of 11 failed doping checks.
Bulgaria's reputation was also tarnished at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where the team were stripped of three gold medals and sent home in shame following positive drug tests. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)