India launch doping probe

Sports Minister Sunil Dutt said the Govt would launch an investigation after the Games and would take firm action, including life bans.
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Published on Aug 20, 2004 06:33 PM IST
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PTI | By N. Ananthanarayanan (Reuters), New Delhi

India announced a Government inquiry into doping on Friday after two women weightlifters were thrown out of the Athens Olympics and sports officials warned that drug cheats could face life bans.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) named Sanamacha Chanu as the second Indian lifter to test positive at the Games after team-mate Pratima Kumari was named on Thursday. They were among seven weightlifters to be caught during pre-Games dope testing.

Sports Minister Sunil Dutt said the Government would launch an investigation after the Games and would take firm action.

Announcing its own probe, the IOA said: "The committee will inquire into the doping issue in Athens and will also suggest stringent measures in this case as well as in the future including life bans on players and officials involved in doping."

Chanu, who came fourth in the 53-kg category, had also tested positive at the 1994 world championships and under existing rules could now face a life ban for a second offence.

"We have been informed by the International Olympic Committee that Chanu has tested positive for a diuretic," Harish Sharma, India's deputy team chief in Athens said.

Diuretics can be used to cover up use of other banned drugs.

The two cases — among four Indian women lifters in Athens — dealt a blow to India's already low sporting credibility at the Olympics. The world's second most populous nation has won one medal in Athens so far — a silver in shooting — while neighbour China has 29, including 14 golds.

The revelations have shocked India, coming two days after trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won his medal.

Indian newspapers and television led reports on Friday with the doping scandal, calling for an official probe to establish whether there was any systematic doping.

Of the other two women lifters in competition in Athens, Kunjarani Devi finished fourth in the 48-kg class and 63-kg lifter Karnam Malleswari, who won India's lone bronze in Sydney, pulled out after one failed snatch, citing a back injury.

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