CWG gold medallist Sanjita Chanu fails dope test, IWF hands her provisional suspension
By Philem Dipak Singh
New Delhi, May 31 (PTI) Dope shame returned to haunt Indian weightlifting as two-time Commonwealth Games champion Sanjita Chanu tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid and was provisionally suspended by the international federation.
International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said on its website that Sanjita, who had won a gold in the women's 53kg category in the recent Gold Coast CWG, has tested positive for testosterone.
"IWF reports that the sample of Ms. Sanjita Chanu Khumukcham (IND) has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for Testosterone (S1.1 Anabolic Agents). As a consequence, the Athlete is provisionally suspended in view of a potential anti-doping rule violation," IWF stated.
"In any case where it is determined that the Athlete did not commit an anti-doping rule violation, the relevant decision will also be published," the IWF added.
The IWF did not give details, such as the dates, of the dope test sample collection, saying "it will not make any further comments on the case until it is closed".
It has been learned that Sanjita has been asked to leave the camp by the Indian Weightlifting Federation and she has left for her home in Manipur. The other weightlifters are currently training at SAI Centre at Shilaroo in Himachal Pradesh.
It's not clear when her dope sample was taken as none of the top officials of the Indian Weightlifting Federation were available for comments. Several attempts to contact them remained unanswered.
It is speculated that the positive dope result could have come from her 'A' sample taken during the World Championship in Anaheim (US) in November last year. If that was the case, it is not known how the dope result was published so late since it is already six months since World Championship got over.
According to sources from the Indian federation, dope samples were also taken from the weightlifters by a team from the international federation after the Commonwealth Games.
If her positive dope result came from a recent test, Sanjita is expected to request for a 'B' sample test. If her 'B' sample also tests positive, she is expected to be handed a maximum of four-year ban from the sport.
Sanjita had taken part in the 53kg class in the World Championship in Anaheim (US) in November last year, finishing 13th with a total lift of 177kg.
She lifted a total of 192kg top win the gold in 53kg in Gold Coast. She had also won a gold in the 48kg category in the 2014 CWG in Glasgow.
The latest dope flunk will hit hard Indian weightlifting whose profile has been on the upswing in recent times, especially after Mirabai Chanu's gold medal in 48kg class in the same World Championship where Sanjita tested positive.
After a dope free 2016, one weightlifter -- Sushila Panwar -- returned positive in a test conducted by the international federation. Sanjita's case is the first dope positive result of this year.
Recently, the International Weightlifting Federation has decided to punish dope offending countries to limit their quotas for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the IOC applied pressure to clean the tainted sport.
It was decided that countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus will be given only two places each at Tokyo 2020 -- as the new rules state that any nation with 20 or more doping violations from 2008 to 2020 will have just one man and one woman at the Games.
Countries with 10-19 doping violations over that same period will be limited to two men and two women in Tokyo. At least nine more countries, including Bulgaria, Iran and India fall into that category.
This decision to limit Olympic quotas, however, will not have much impact on India as the country has not been sending more than two weightlifters each in men and women's sections in the Olympics during the past few editions.
Before Sanjita's case, 12 Indian weightlifters have tested positive in the tests conducted by the international federation from 2008