HYDERABAD: Doping is an issue that can end or severely hurt fledgling as well as established careers. Weightlifting is one of the most affected sports when it comes to doping violations. Indian weightlifters have been reportedly caught cheating more than ten times since 2008. Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sanjita Chanu got a breather early February when the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) lifted a provisional ban on her.
Several steps are being taken to curb the menace, Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) secretary general Sahdev Yadav told this newspaper. According to the latest IWF rule, an athlete has to participate in six eligible events in three semesters — November 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019; May 1, 2019 to October 31, 2019 and November 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020, to be eligible for an Olympic berth.“All hopefuls need to take part in at least two events in each of these semesters to be eligible for selection. And when they go for these tournaments, they will undergo dope tests. So, in this system you cannot hide,” Yadav said.
IWLF has adopted a stringent approach towards state associations that have more than two lifters who have tested positive for banned substances. “If more than two are caught, we ban the state association and the respective coaches for one year. Banning the athlete is National Anti Doping Agency’s job, but we take care of the rest. And it has produced results. After we banned units such as Services Sports Control Board and Uttar Pradesh in the last few years, the numbers have dropped. The menace has still not been uprooted totally, but we will soon be able to do it,” the official said.
Before the IWF rule came into effect in 2017, the Indian federation used to send athletes randomly. That will also change. “People who have been in the scheme of things by participating in the required number of events will only be eligible. No one can circumvent this rule,” he said. For the 2020 Olympics, India has four berths. The other issue is age fraud. IWLF has withheld the results of UP state championships — held about four months ago — after a majority of weightlifters did not submit age-proof documents.
“At the upcoming youth nationals, we will show how serious we are about this problem. We will be very strict,” Yadav added.
The weightlifting fraternity has shown improved results on the international stage in the last four years. Asked about the IWLF’s targets, Yadav said, “There is only one target. We cannot say all four athletes will come back with medals, but there will be one medal winner at least. And we will be fighting for gold.”