The Weightlifting Federation of India (WFI) faces another possible banishment from the international sports arena after three more weightlifters — Harbhajan Singh, Rajesh Kumar and Bijaya Devi — tested positive for banned substances on Thursday.
Shailaja Pujari, the women's 75kg gold medallist at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and men's 56kg lifter Vicky Batta, had failed out-of-competition tests last month.
IWF secretary Baldev Gulati confirmed that the lifters had tested positive in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tests at a training camp for the Commonwealth Games next year. According to rules, a national federation can be banned if three of its weightlifters test positive within the space of 12 months. Gulati said, "The penalty to be imposed on the lifters has not yet been decided. The offenders can be either fined or suspended, or even both." Refusing to talk about the possible punishments, Gulati explained that only the president of the WFI could decide.
The president of the OC, Suresh Kalmadi, however, emphasised that the lifters would be dealt with strictly, keeping in mind the rules of the sport. "We have time and again reiterated that Indian sport must be dope-free," he said. As host of the Games next year, Kalmadi added that the growing number of lifters recently found guilty alarmed the IOA.
The IOA has formed a committee to look into the matter with K P Singh Deo as the
chairman. Other members are IOA's anti-doping chief Manmohan Singh, Dr Munish Chander and legal advisor Sushil Salwan. The IWF has already been banned thrice before in the space of six years, after being thrown out in 2004 and 2006.