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C'wealth Games: Indian drug cheats confirmed

CGF confirmed that two Indian weightlifters failed drugs tests, but rebutted suggestions that the sport should be dropped.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Melbourne
PUBLISHED ON MAR 24, 2006 10:55 AM IST

The Commonwealth Games Federation on Friday confirmed that two Indian weightlifters have failed drugs tests, but rebutted suggestions that the tainted sport should be dropped.

CGF president Mike Fennell said the lifters tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol during an out of competition test before the Games started.

"Over 700 tests have been completed to date and the CGF Federation Court has been advised only of the violation pertaining to these two athletes," he said.

"We have to recognise that the vast majority of athletes are clean. We have had the most robust testing of athletes here than ever before."

Fennell refused to name the cheating weightlifters as the matter has yet to go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

However, Indian team sources told AFP on Thursday that they were Edwin Raju, who finished fourth in the men's 56kg category, and Tejinder Singh, who withdrew from the 85kg on Monday.

Both Tejinder and Raju had cleared three tests conducted by the Sports Authority of India's Dope Control Centre in New Delhi between December and February.

But the Centre itself has been under a shadow in recent months after it failed a sample test given by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) under the latter's accreditation procedure.

Two women weightlifters, Sanamacha Chanu and Pratima Kumari, who failed the dope test at the Athens Olympics, had both been cleared by the same Dope Control Centre.

"We are all shocked, just did not want such a thing to happen when India is doing so well at the Games," Gurbir Singh, the general manager of the Indian contingent, told reporters.

HJ Dora, president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation and Indian chef de mission, said the lifters faced a life ban.

"The Indian Weightlifting Federation has already taken very serious measures regarding doping," he said in a statement.

"The federation's bylaws are very clear that if any athlete is found positive in an international competition they will be subject to a life-ban."

India fears the latest scandal could force it's weightlifters to miss the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Under International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rules, a national federation can be banned for up to three years if three of its lifters return positive tests in a 12-month period, the Indian team said.

Shailaja Pujari, a gold medal hopeful here, failed a drugs test before the Games and did not travel to Melbourne.

Weightlifting is one of the worst offenders when it comes to drugs but Games organisers insisted it was such a popular sport it would be a mistake to consider banning it.

"We have to accept that weightlifting is an extremely popular sport," said Fennell.

"We have to be satisfied that the IWF is taking strong action to ensure the sport is clean. If they weren't taking moves in that direction, it would be a concern.

"But in our discussions with the IWF, we are satisfied that they are taking the strongest possible measures to clean up the sport."

Fennell and other Games officials meanwhile admitted the transparancy of their drug testing procedures needed to be re-examined after a media backlash here over the delays in making the test results public.

"We do not like these delays," said Fennell, who added that he could not release information earlier under the CGF Anti-Doping Standard.

"I acknowledge fully that the time frame needs to be looked at, but there are such sophisticated designer drugs now that analysis takes longer."

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