India’s weightlifting chances in Rio doubtful after two test positive

  • Navneet Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 17, 2015 10:53 IST
A file photo of 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Geeta Rani, who tested positive earlier this year. (Getty Images)

The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) is teetering on the verge of a ban by the international federation after two women lifters tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and were dropped from the national team that will compete in the World Championships in Houston from November 20.

The international body has put the duo on the banned list and uploaded their names on its website. As per international norms, three positive results in a calendar year result in a one-year ban for the national federation, which could threaten India’s participation in next year’s Rio Olympic Games.

Promising lifters, Pramila Krisani and Minati Sethi, failed dope tests during the recently concluded Commonwealth Championships at Pune and were provisionally suspended from all competitions held under the banner of the International Weightlifting Federation. Krisani had won silver in the 53kg category, while Sethi had clinched bronze in 58kg. Both tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, a drug disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson made popular.

With the latest addition, the number of dope cheats from the core group preparing for the Olympics has gone up to seven, making the task of the national body to win a Rio berth a bit difficult. Krisani and Sethi had been attending the Olympic Games preparatory camp at Patiala for long and hadn’t tested positive in domestic meets or out-of-competition tests at Patiala, hinting that there could be an organised system to shelter top lifers in the camp. Otherwise, how could they return negative tests in domestic meets?

Krisani, yet to turn 20, had won the women’s 53kg gold in the senior nationals at Jaipur in March. Sethi too had been impressive, winning gold at the National Games in Kerala.

D Chandradas Rai, the IWF secretary-general, said he wasn’t aware of any lifter being dropped from the 14-member team bound for Houston. “Our office in Delhi would know better,” he said. But, there was no response from the federation’s office.

When the Indian lifters begin their campaign in Houston, chief coach Vijay Sharma will have his fingers crossed as one more positive case would trigger the process for suspension of the national body — and lead to Indian lifters missing Rio.

The IWF had a narrow miss in September when two lifters, Jameer Hussian and Aporva Chettri, failed pre-departure tests conducted by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) ahead of the Asian championship. Had they tested positive during the continental meet, the national body would have faced suspension.

The IWF has had a chequered past with the body being suspended in 2004, 2006 and 2009. In order to compete in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, India had paid more than Rs 2 crore penalty to the world body.

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