April 20, 2008 / 5:31 PM / in 11 years

Champion Mutlu returns after ban to win European silver

LONDON (Reuters) - Triple Olympic champion Halil Mutlu of Turkey has returned to top flight competition after a two-year doping ban to win a silver medal at the European weightlifting championships.

Mutlu won the snatch in the 56 kg group and finished with the same combined lift, 269 kg, as Igor Bour. The Moldovan took the bantamweight gold because of his lower body weight at the championships in Lignano, Italy.

Mutlu was banned in late 2005 for taking steroids. No lifter has won four Olympic gold medals.

Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia, silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics, won the heaviest class, the 105+ kg. Matthias Steiner of Germany was just one kg behind him with a combined lift of 446 kgs. Russia’s Dmitry Berestov, who won the 105 kg gold in Athens, won his weight category on Sunday by a 5-kg margin.

The tournament also served as an Olympic qualifier when countries could earn places at the Beijing Games through their lifters’ perfromances.

Among the women, Turkey’s Nurcan Taylan won the European gold in the 48 kg class, thanks to a lower body weight, to go with her 2004 Olympic title while Athens silver medallist Natalia Zabolotnaya won the 75 kg title.

"Countdown to Beijing Olympics" blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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