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Lifters court more dope trouble

Indian weightlifters are in the news, and once again for the wrong reason, reports Indraneel Das.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2007 03:53 IST

Indian weightlifters are in the news, and once again for the wrong reason. Just a few days after the International Weightlifting Federation lifted a doping-related, one-year ban on India, it has now emerged that at least three weightlifters have tested positive for using banned substances during the Senior Nationals held at Visakhapatnam in December last year.

However, although the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) claims that only three weightlifters had tested positive during the Nationals, reliable sources told HT that there could be more than six lifters who had tested positive. What is also surprising is that most of the positive dope tests were for the use of the banned steroid Nandrolone. The latest violations came to light when samples were randomly taken from the participants at Visakhapatnam.

With just two days to go for the 33rd National Games in Guwahati, the timing couldn’t have been more critical for the sport in India.

The Indian Weightlifting Federation had just paid a hefty fine of $25,000 (around Rs 11.25 lakh) to get a revocation of the ban imposed on India after more than two Indian weightlifters tested positive last year at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. And, it just seemed like things were getting better. Not anymore.

“We have received reports regarding the positive tests from the Sports Authority of India. We would not like to reveal anything more until all formalities are over,” Balbir Bhatia, secretary of the IWF said on Tuesday. Though Bhatia neither denied nor confirmed anything else, he added, “those found guilty would not be spared”. Despite his assurances, it now appears that the IWF’s so-called precautions have not been effective. Meanwhile on Monday, the IWF received confirmation via a letter from the international federation that the ban on the country has been lifted allowing it to participate in international competitions, Bhatia said.

Incidentally, there were no national camps last year and the weightlifters had been training on their own.

Email Indraneel Das: indraneeldas@hindustantimes.com