|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
WFI official denies "aiding and abetting" doping
May 06, 2003 20:24 IST
Seeking to distance himself from the spate of doping controversies involving a large number of weightlifters, Weighlifting Federation of India general secretary Balbir Singh Bhatia said he is completely ignorant about drugs and is in no way responsible for "aiding or abetting" the menace.
In the eye of a storm ahead of his election as general secretary of the federation, on Sunday, Bhatia also said he is yet to receive any show cause notice or directive from the Sports Ministry declaring him "persona non-grata".
"These (allegations) happened because of the elections," Bhatia said. "They even distributed copies of the report in Hyderabad, where the WFI Annual General Meeting took place.
"I went to the Nehru stadium today and no one stopped me," Bhatia told reporters in Delhi, following a newspaper report that the Sports Ministry has banned him from entering any Sports Authority of India stadium in the country.
On the charge that he "aided and abetted doping" in the sport, Bhatia said: "To tell you the truth I don't know anything about drugs.
"At my time we used to lift by drinking milk."
An Arjuna awardee and former national champion, Bhatia was elected WFI general secretary in Hyderabad on Sunday for a three-year term.
Told by reporters that, as a senior official of the federation, it is his duty to be aware of banned substances, Bhatia shot back: "I feel I should not know about them."
However, National coach Pal Singh Sandhu, who was also present at the press conference, said he is aware of all banned substances and guided the athletes accordingly.
"We get the list from the drug specialists. The International Weightlifting Federation informs us about the food supplements. And we also read the books published by the world body," said Sandhu.
On reports that Commonwealth gold medal winner Sanamacha Chanu had tested positive for a second time, Bhatia said it was a case of mistaken identitity and "as per records it was another lifter with the same surname".
Asked whether he agrees that there is rampant use of performance enhancing drugs among weightlifters, Bhatia replied in the affirmative, and said "there is no denying (this fact)."
"It's the case the world over," added the national coach.
If seven lifters tested positive in the last National Games in Hyderabad and four in the senior nationals, the worrying number came in the Junior Nationals held in Vizag in Januray this year, when 23 tested positive.
Meanwhile, Bhatia said as per the new rules of the international body, each country has to submit a list of senior and junior lifters and only those in the list can compete in international events.
"We have submitted a list of 18 men and 16 women in the senior category. But we are yet to finalise the list of juniors after the spate of positive results," he said.
On allegations that he tampered with the samples of lifters prior to the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Bhatia said: "He is yet to receive any charge sheet in this regard," though he admitted carrying the samples from Bangalore to Delhi.