CHENNAI: Want to win a national weightlifting medal? You might find one around your neck if you turn up, complete a lift and not fail a dope test. That’s what happened in the women’s +87kg category of the 71st Men and 34th Women Senior National Weightlifting Championships, in February. A quick scan of the updated results of the event put up on the Indian Weightlifting Federation’s website and the original results distributed at the time of the event reveals that a number of names are missing. IWLF secretary Sahdev Yadav confirmed that sixteen of the original medallists who had failed dope tests have been removed from the updated results. This perhaps is the highest number of medallists failing dope tests in a single event in any sport.
One of the most dramatic change is in the women’s +87kg section where both the gold and silver medal winners have been struck out. That means that Pardeep Kaur, Ashwini Malage and Ann Mariya MT — the three of the remaining five who managed to complete lifts — find themselves in the top three.
The men’s 109kg category has a completely new set of medallists with the original trio — Vishal Solanki, Loverpreet Singh and Gurmail Singh — all failing dope tests. The gold and silver medallists in the 102kg, Sahil Sharma and Ramshad AR, were both disqualified meaning bronze winner Pardeep Singh is now top of the standings.
Two medallists were removed from the women’s 81kg category while changes were also made to the men’s 55kg, 89kg, 96kg and +109kg categories as well as the women’s 49kg, 64kg and 71kg sections.
With an Olympic year looming, the sheer number of medallists who have failed dope tests raise eyebrows. Weightlifting has long been a big source of dope cheats with the national body getting suspended in 2004 and 2006 after lifters tested positive in international events.
The National Anti-Doping Agency’s newsletter published on Friday revealed that a further seven lifters had failed dope tests at the nationals. The sport had been the biggest offender in the list of 29 sportspersons who were provisionally suspended by NADA between January and March 2019.However, the IWLF is planning to put in place stringent measures to combat this menace. Yadav revealed that they would make dope testing mandatory at every state meet. “We will hold seminars to raise awareness on the issue at all state meets as well.”