THERE IS no respite for weightlifter Shailaja Pujari, who returned a positive dope test conducted by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on February 4.
Just hours after the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) received the official confirmation letter from WADA, it is learnt that she returned a positive test during the selection trials, conducted by the federation for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne from March 15-26, as well.
It has been reliably learnt that the urine samples collected during the trials held on February 7-8, Shailaja tested positive for the same banned anabolic steroid — stanozol — which WADA had mentioned in their report. She is facing a life ban for her second offence (after the WADA report).
Though federation officials refused to clarify, they did not deny the news. “We have to be intimated officially then only can we say something,” was federation secretary Balbir Bhatia’s reply.
However, on the WADA intimation, Bhatia said: “We have got the official letter confirming her positive dope test and we swung into action immediately.”
Shailaja, a gold-medal prospect at the Melbourne Games in the 75kg weight category, was immediately pulled out of the squad and was slapped a provisional ban till all formalities are over. “We will ask for a B sample test,” said Bhatia.
“There is very little time left and we don’t want to take any risk after all these, so there will be no replacement for her,” said Bhatia. This will be her second offence after she failed a dope test during the junior National championships in 2003.
When asked whether the federation would crack the whip on her coach Amarnath also, Bhatia said: “We can’t do it immediately but there will be a full-fledged enquiry into the matter and the culprit will be nailed. We just don’t know what prompted her, since just one good lift in snatch and one in clean and jerk would have been enough for her to secure the gold,” said Bhatia.
Incidentally, it’s barely seven months since the one-year ban was lifted from the IWF for testing twice in international events within a year. Since then, Shailaja has been tested nine times during international and National championships.
She was tested during the Commonwealth Championships in Melbourne, once during the Asian Championships in Doha and once during the World Championships in China and six times, including two Nationals in December and January, in India.
More WADA visits
Shailaja might have slipped away from the Patiala camp on Tuesday night, but WADA visits have not stopped. Two WADA dope-sampling officers visited the camp on
Wednesday to collect samples from athletes. Since most of the athletes are participating at the Fed Cup National Athletics championships, it was once again the weightlifters who had to give their samples.