The efforts of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to rid the sport of doping appear to have few takers among the competitors.
A case in point is the Inter-Railway Weightlifting Competition, which concluded in Kolkata on December 5. As soon as news trickled in that the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) would be collecting urine samples during competition, several top lifters either withdrew from the three-day event, or came up with below-par performances to avoid coming on the NADA radar. As per the rule, besides the medallists in each category, random samples are also taken.
Ajay Kumar, an assistant sports officer in-charge of weightlifting in the Railways, said: "Its (IWF) efforts to check the menace of doping are relentless and those who indulge in any wrongdoing will pay the price." No official, however, wanted to comment on the withdrawals.
During the Kolkata meet, which was dominated by Western Railways, NADA collected as many as 25 samples. Despite the absence of known names, an IWF official, requesting anonymity, told HT that "chances of several lifters returning positive cases could not be ruled out".
The below-par results could hit the Railways, as it contributes a substantial chunk of the talent at the national level.
The other glaring issue is the appointment of former international Satheesha Rai, who is serving a life ban for two doping violations, as vice-president of the Karnataka State Weightlifting Association. Rai's inclusion is in contrast to the IWF's claims that it is going all out to check doping.
Contacted for a reaction, A Subramaniam, IWF vice-president, said Rai had been banned from competition but there was no bar on his getting elected to a state body.