New Delhi: In a surprising development, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) asked two of its London-bound athletes to give a undertaking on their fitness before being cleared to participate in the Olympics.
According to sources in the federation, the two selected lifters — K Ravi Kumar (69 kg) and Soniya Chanu (48 kg) — left for London on Monday after giving the IWLF in writing that they were fit. The undertaking has also said that both of them were not suffering from any injury that would hamper their performance in London.
Though no federation official was ready to come on record, a senior functionary said: “Considering the fact that there had been few controversies over weightlifting in the past few Olympics, we felt it was necessary to ask the lifters to give the undertaking.”
The official, however, refused to accept it had anything to do with the doping menace that struck Indian weightlifting several times in the past. “The lifters are absolutely clean. But we should also be sure about their fitness.”
Sources said the selection committee was not happy with the fitness of the lifters, especially Ravi Kumar. A gold medallist in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Orissa lifter hasn’t done anything significant since then because of a nagging shoulder injury.
Interestingly, the lifter had taken hydrocortisone drugs for the injury and applied for therapeutic use exemption (TUE) through the federation. He has been granted TUE till the last date of this month. Ravi Kumar’s event is on July 30.
There had been problems in the Indian weightlifting team in the last three Olympics. In 2000 Sydney, where Karnam Malleswari created history by winning a bronze in the 69 kg, there was a big controversy over selection of Sanamacha Chanu ahead of Kunjarani Devi in the team.
Sanamacha Chanu, however, was not that lucky four years later in Athens as she and Pratima Kumari tested positive for banned performance-enhanced drugs. In 2008, Monika Devi was selected for Beijing Olympics but was dropped for testing positive.
This time, India earned two quota places for London — one each in men’s and women’s sections during the Asian championships in South Korea. India finished fifth in the men’s team standings with 134 points and fourth in the women section with 93 points to earn the places.