Relief finally, for the Indian weightlifting squad and the national federation. The long pending fine of $375,000 (Rs 1.75 crore), due to the international weightlifting federation, has been paid and the team will be allowed to participate in the Delhi Games, and the Asian Games in Guangzhou next year.
For the CWG squad, this means the possibility of as many as 15 medals, a sizeable chunk of India’s overall medals tally. The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) secretary, Sahdev Yadav, confirmed the payment saying, ‘We received the interest-free loan from the OC last week, and have transferred the entire amount to the IWF. We have to repay it within a year, and will do so as soon as possible.’
When asked about the individual fines that are still to be paid, Yadav said, ‘Those amounts are relatively small, and do not come with any deadlines. We will pay off those fines as well, but since none of those lifters are in the CWG squad, it is not top priority. Our focus now is on winning, and clearing the name of Indian weightlifting.’
The team too was clearly buoyant. Medal hope and national record holder K. Ravi Kumar said, ‘We had been assured by the federation that we would be allowed to compete. We will repay their faith by training even harder.’
He also said the federation was making further efforts to help the lifters in training and competition. ‘Specialised lifting shoes, belts and knee supporters have been imported from Germany and issued to the team. This added help from the federation will help us improve performance.’
OC secretary-general Lalit Bhanot said the loan was given from funds allocated towards the development of sports, but that did not mean the OC would be monitoring the Indian lifters any more than other teams. ‘The OC is not authorised to conduct dope tests. We will conduct 1500 tests through the doping control agencies and the lifters will be subject to tests as well, but there will be no special focus or monitoring. We are sure the federation is keeping a check on athletes and their training regimen.’