NEW DELHI: There is not much to show in terms of stellar performances but the fact that Indian weightlifters managed to bury the ghost of doping, which has haunted them for long, was no less an achievement in what can easily be considered a good year for the sport.
Along with the new-found cleaner image, something the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) had been searching for years, came a reasonable amount of success on the mat as well, with the country's lifters bagging as many as 12 medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this year.
Indian lifters exceeded expectations at the quadrennial event, winning three gold, four silver and five bronze, an improvement of four medals from the 2010 Delhi edition. They, however, failed to replicate their CWG success at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, coming up with a listless performance.
With just over a month's gap between the CWG and Asian Games, the 10-member team produced a below-par performance at Incheon.
Having failed to recover from the CWG's gruelling competition, the Indians completely came a cropper against the lifters from countries like China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan -- all of whom are considered strong in weightlifting.
But once again the highlight for the Indians was that none tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs.
"This is the biggest success for us -- that none of our lifters tested positive. We have finally managed to come out of the shadow of doping that had been haunting us for quite some time now," Indian women's team coach Hansa Sharma told PTI.
"Only two out of our five girls who won medals at the CWG were tested. The gold and silver medallists (Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu) were tested on first day but after that there were no tests conducted. None of the Indians were called for random tests as well.
"In men's category also, only two were tested out of seven medallists. This shows that India carried a cleaner image into the Games this time around. The organisers knew that the Indians have come out of the drug menace," she had said.
Indian weightlifters and doping finally parted ways and the credit must go to IWF and the government for making the sport dope-free.
The lifters have been instructed to be in national camps under the supervision of their coaches at all time.
They are also getting dietary supplements from the Government in abundance and that has not just helped in their quick recovery but also reduced the inflow of supplements from outside.
Being educated about all aspects related to doping from time to time has also helped the lifters.
On top of that, the Federation's focus on picking up talented youngsters and giving them the best possible training and facilities since the conclusion of 2010 Commonwealth Games has brought about a sea change in the awareness levels.
All five women lifters who bagged medals at CWG were new faces.
The 20-year-old Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu (48kg) bagged the gold at CWG, while Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (48kg) and Santoshi Matsa (53kg) won the silver. Swati Singh (53kg) and Punam Yadav (63kg) finished third.
In men's 77kg category, 22-year-old Sathish Sivalingam stunned his senior compatriot, K Ravi Kumar to clinch the yellow metal ahead of him.
However, the Indian lifters were jolted back to reality in the Asian Games, where they could not even come close to the podium finishers.
Even as they managed steer clear of the drug menace, the weightlifters still have a long way to go as far as their performance is concerned.
The Indians will have to work a lot harder in the coming year if they want to give even a slightest fight to the top lifters of the world in the 2016 Rio Olympics.