CHENNAI: Nine athletes, including 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist weightlifter Geeta Rani, returned positive in the dope tests conducted during the National Games in Kerala. The number of sportspersons with positive results so far was first reported by Express on March 24.
Punjab’s Geeta Rani, who won gold in women’s 75-plus kg category in the National Games is the high-profile athlete in the ‘positive’ list that also featured three other lifters — Harjeet Kaur, Mangte P Kom and Komal Wakale (all three won silver in their respective weight categories). Rachna KM, silver-medallist in hammer throw was also named. Two more athletes have failed the test as well.
As per sources in the National Anti Doping Agency, the number of ‘positive cases’ may further go up as the agency is yet to complete the examination of all samples. Around 512 urine samples and 118 blood samples were collected during the multi-sport event from January 31-February 14.
Weightlifting Federation of India president Birendra Prasad Baishya was ‘shocked’ by the finding. “Since we took charge of the federation in 2010, we have never tested positive in multi-discipline events like the Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Even in the national meets our doping cases have declined tremendously. We have a zero-tolerance towards dope cheats,” said Baisya. “All lifters have been placed on provisional suspension. If their ‘B’ samples also return positive, they will be suspended for two-to-four years depending on the offence.”
The WFI president said nowadays the federation has made it mandatory to test all athletes in the national camp. “We collect random samples and we make sure all lifters are clean at any given time,” said Baisya. “We have also told all state units that stringent action will be taken against them as well. If there are positive cases in two different events in a year the unit will be immediately suspended for a year. An athlete will be fined `25,000.”
Speaking to Express, chief national athletics coach Bahadur Singh said Rachna has been struck off the list of national campers once the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) were intimated of the result by NADA. “Her name was included in the list on the basis of her performance in the National Games and when we were intimated of her being tested positive we removed her name,” he said. “Unlike some media reports she has never been in the national camp before the Games,” he reasoned. The AFI has provisionally suspended the athlete.
The athletes in question will be notified about their ‘A’ sample findings and if they don’t ask for a ‘B’ sample test within seven days the initial findings stand valid.
Dope Stats in Previous Games
Ranchi, 2011: 13 tested positive out of 308 samples.
Guwahati, 2007: 9 tested positive out of 257 samples.
Hyderabad, 2002: 22 tested positive out of 464 samples.
Punjab, 2001: 17 tested positive (trial basis)