Top lifters in dope net, Commonwealth event preparations in jeopardy
More than 10 top weightlifters, including a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, dealing a huge blow to the Indian team’s preparations ahead of the Commonwealth Championships (senior and junior) at Apia, Samoa from July 9-14.
The lifters have been asked to leave the national camp in Patiala and barred from the May 21 Commonwealth Championships selection trials. They have provisionally been suspended and if proven guilty, will be banned for four years. A good showing at the Commonwealth Championships would have helped them graduate to the ‘core group’, which will compete at the World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand (September 16-25) for crucial ranking points to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The number of positive cases is expected to rise as the analysis of some samples—collected during the National Championships at Visakhapatnam from February 21-28—is still pending. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) had collected more than 30 urine samples during the nationals.
Indian lifters traditionally dominate the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Championships. At the 2018 Gold Coast Games, India had won five gold, two silver and an equal number of bronze medals.
As per the Indian Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) anti-doping policy, the lifters might also have to pay a fine of ~50,000 each. The federation also debars a state unit if more than two lifters fail dope tests in a calendar year. The ban can be lifted by paying a penalty of ~1 lakh. There have been instances where coaches of individual lifters have also been banned.
IWF secretary-general, Sahdev Yadav, said the federation was contemplating “even stricter rules” . “We will make it mandatory for state units to submit the whereabouts of athletes participating at the national level. The list will be given to NADA. Hopefully, it will give results,” said Yadav. “Some top lifters at the national camp in Patiala had gone home for different reasons. We have taken a serious view of this. I’m waiting for NADA’s report,” he added.
Despite these measures, weightlifting continues to top the doping charts. In 2015, more than 20 lifters, including school- and college-going children had failed dope tests.
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