Shailaja, Vicky test positive again

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 13.10.09
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New Delhi: A doping scandal struck Indian weightlifting again when two of India’s best prospects for the Commonwealth Games tested positive, according to the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

The IWF secretary B.R. Gulati informed that 56kg ’lifter Vicky Batta and woman ’lifter Shailaja Pujari (75kg) have been caught for taking banned substances.

While Shailaja failed a National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) test, Vicky returned positive results in a World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) test.

The Indian federation, Gulati said, could be banned for a year were one more ’lifter to test positive in this calendar year.

Both athletes have failed drug tests before.

Shailaja tested positive in 2006 and, a year later, Batta failed a test during the National Games. Batta had won the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Shailaja has tested positive for an anabolic steroid this time.

Gulati said Shailaja could be banned for life. “If she doesn’t appeal in the next three days, it would be taken as an admission of guilt and, in that case, Shailaja could be banned for life.”

As for Batta, Gulati said: “He has time to appeal and he can approach the federation to get his B sample tested. But if that too is positive, he too would be banned for life.”

The latest doping slur has come as huge setback for the IWF and the disappointment in Gulati’s couldn’t be missed.

“Weightlifting is a power sport and lifters need supplements… But they have to be mindful of the banned substances.

“We try to educate them about the banned substances and have always told them to consult a specialist before consuming supplements,” Gulati said.

“It’s the greed of a few lifters which sullies the image of not just the federation but the entire country,” he added.

In 2006, the IWF was banned for 12 months after four ’lifters were caught for doping within a year and the national weightlifting body was taking a number of important steps to avoid a repeat of the damaging doping cases before the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi next year.

Medal-starved India has produced many talented ’lifters in the past decade and won its only bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the sport, but doping has tarnished its image.

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, woman ’lifter Monika Devi was withdrawn from the squad over an alleged doping offence. She has denied any wrongdoing and the matter is in court.