Thursday, 15 October 2009

Weightlifters cause a major embarrassment to India

The participation of Indian weightlifters in next year’s Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi is in jeopardy with the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) facing the prospect of a one-year ban after a third positive dope test result in two days. After Shailja Pujari and Vicky Batta were caught in the dope net on Monday, IWF secretary BR Gulati confirmed on Tuesday that another weightlifter, Priyadarshini, had flunked the test.

According to International Weightlifting Federation regulations, a national federation can be banned for a year if three of its lifters test positive for banned substances. If the Indian federation is banned, the host nation will not be represented by weightlifters at the New Delhi CWG to be held between October 3 and 14, 2010.

“Priyadarshini was tested in Pune on August 7 and 8 during trials and her sample was found positive. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) report says she was using a masking agent to save herself from getting caught for taking banned substances,” says Gulati.

Since Priyadarshini has been caught doping for the first time, a two-year ban is expected to be the penalty for the offence.

However, Shailja, who tested positive for an anabolic steroid in a NADA test, and Vicky, caught by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), face life bans since they have been guilty of doping earlier.

Although Gulati refuses to comment on the possibility of the Indian federation being banned, the penalty seems unavoidable. As an IWF official says: “There are three positive dope tests and the rules are clear.” In any case, the Indian federation will have to shell out $5,000 for each failed dope test.

It may be recalled that Indian weightlifters have a history of doping. The IWF has been banned twice previously, the last time being in 2006 when Shailja, B Pramilavalli, Edwin Raju and Tejinder Singh tested positive. The ban was lifted after six months with the IWF paying a fine of $50,000.


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