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Doping hearing adjourned for 2 Indian weightlifters

Doping hearings for Edwin and Tajinder have been adjourned till Sunday.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 15:34 IST

The doping hearings for weightlifters Edwin Raju and Tajinder Singh have been adjourned until Sunday at the request of Indian authorities, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said.

Raju and Singh tested positive to the banned steroid Stanozolol four days before the March 15 opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Games, and their cases were referred to a CAS panel hearing in Melbourne on Saturday.

CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb said the athletes had already left Melbourne and were being represented by HJ Dora, leader of the Indian Commonwealth Games contingent and head of the national weightlifting federation.

After hearing preliminary submissions, the CAS agreed to adjourn the hearing another day, he said.

"They wanted more time to prepare their defence," Reeb said in a telephone interview. "There's still enough time for the panel to render a decision before the closing ceremony."

The games end Sunday night.

If the doping charges are upheld, the weightlifters face a two-year ban from the CAS and a life ban from the Indian federation. The Indian federation also faces a ban of up to five years from international weightlifting competition under the three-strikes rule.

Raju finished fourth in the men's 56-kilogram class at the games and Singh withdrew from the men's 85-kilogram division on Monday, claiming he was ill.

Dora said he was surprised by the positive results but determined to enforce life bans if the athletes' guilt was confirmed. "If any athlete is found positive in an international competition they will be subject to a life ban," Dora said in a statement. "We are determined to ensure that the testing process is fully scrutinized as the athletes in question have been subject to three rounds of dope testing in the past month which have all been negative."

Dora said the World Anti-Doping Agency tested both athletes on March 1, before the team departed for Australia, and those results were negative.

He also said Indian weightlifters participated in three international tournaments in 2005, collecting 62 medals, and all had been tested to WADA standards without returning any positives. "We've got to check a whole lot of data, and the consistency of the data being made available," Dora told The Associated Press on Friday. "Only after that will consider and seek time to appeal." Under IWF rules, a country that has three positive test results within one year faces automatic bans and/or fines.

The Commonwealth Games are India's first major weightlifting competition since serving a one-year ban after a spate of doping cases in 2004.

The punishments are expected to be higher for a second-time breach.

India already has one strike against it after 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Shailaja Pujari tested positive for a banned substance at a training camp last month.

India has nine weightlifting medals in Melbourne, including three gold. All the weightlifters, including Raju and Singh, have already returned to India.

India's weightlifting federation has been plagued by doping since athletes were stripped of gold medals at the 2002 Manchester Games for flunking doping tests and others were banned from the 2004 Athens Olympics.

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 08:10 IST