NEW DELHI: Former Olympics bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari on Thursday said favouritism shown towards some of the previous doping culprits by the Indian Weightlifting Federation was to be blamed for the mess in which the sport in the country finds itself now. “Earlier, we had strict rules and we dreaded the ban. No one would be spared. But when some of the lifters were let off in the past without any punishment and given chance at the risk of country’s reputation, this is what one can expect,” country’s first weightlifting said.
“There was one lifter Rajvinder Singh, who was banned for life after she tested positive in junior nationals in Patiala in early ‘90s. But it was definitely a risk to stake the country’s reputation in the hands of lifters like P Shailaja and Pratima Kumari who have tainted records. In international events, when such cases happen, they don’t talk about Shailaja or Pratima, they say an Indian lifter is caught.”
Malleswari said she was appalled to know that B Prameela Valli, a bright prospect from her home state Andhra Pradesh, was also among those caught for doping offence. “We had recently felicitated Prameela at a function here. Maybe they have been doing this all along and have been caught only now.”
The two-time world champion lifter said doping incidences were increasing since 2000 and it might be due to the rise in popularity of the game after her Olympic glory. “Doping scandals are on the rise after 2000. Perhaps they are lured by the incentives. But it was a fruit of our hard labour for 15-16 years,” she said.
The Andhra lifter said those caught for doping offences must not be spared. “It is really so frustrating because junior lifters will suffer the most. The culprits deserve severe punishments. We’ve really worked hard to bring the country this far. These lifters did not have to struggle for recognition. They should also understand their responsibilities towards their juniors,” she said.
Malleswari, the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal, said it was dreadful to think of a two-to-five year ban from the International Weightlifting Federation. “Nothing could be worse than such a long ban. I’ve talked to Indian Weightlifting Federation president (HJ) Dora and requested him to do something about preventing it. The suspension period) shouldn’t be long,” she said.
Been there done that
2001: In the Asian Championships in Jeon Ju, Korea. Kunjarani Devi (48kg) tested positive
2002: In the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Sateesha Rai (75 kg) and Krishnan Madasamy (62kg) test positive. Sateesha was stripped of his gold medal
2004: In the Asian Championship in Almaty, Sunaina Kumari (75 kg) test positive. Sanamachu Chanu (53kg), and Pratima Kumari (63kg) test positive during the Athens Olympics. Pratima accuses her coaches of having doped her
2006: On March 1, Shailaja Pujari (75kg) tests positive in a Wada test. On March 8, B Prameelavalli (63kg) tests positive in a Sports Authority of India test. Tejinder Singh (85 kg) and Edwin Raju (53kg) test positive at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games