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It's conspiracy, says Pratima

August 20, 2004 02:44 IST

Disgraced woman weightlifter Pratima Kumari, who tested positive for performance-enhancing male hormone testosterone, pleaded innocence and accused coaches Pal Singh Sandhu and Leonid Taranenko of hatching a conspiracy against her.

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"I have never taken any such medicine in my life. It's a conspiracy hatched by Sandhu and Taranenko. I am completely innocent," Pratima, a lifter in the 53 kg category, told India
TV on phone from Athens.

"I cleared dope tests in Belarus and also in India on August 2 before leaving for Athens. But now, suddenly I hear that I have tested positive. I think this is all wrong," she said.

Launching a scathing attack on the two coaches, Pratima said she was administered spinal injections in Belarus when she complained of back pain.

"I told them repeatedly to give me some traction. But they refused. Because of these injections my back has worsened. I have got a severe allergic infection. I believe they have targeted me."

Asked why she alone would be made the target, Pratima replied: "I don't know for sure, but may be, because both me and [Karnam] Malleswari are in the same weight category. Moreover, I had the best performance among the four Indian lifters competing at Athens."

Pratima said the media should inquire and find out the truth about the entire controversy.

"I have never used any medicine (to enhance my performance). And earlier also I have won medals," she said.

The 28-year-old lifter said that she was kept in the dark in Athens about her 'positive' dope test.

"They only told me that I have been adjudged unfit for my back pain. At 2-30 am on August 16, Sandhu and Taranenko told me that I'll have to leave the Games village and return home. I told them that I have a severe back pain and can't travel alone. But they did not listen," she said.

Pratima said that it was only on return to India that she came to know about the positive dope test.

Pratima denied that she had left the Grecian capital secretly. "That's not true. I travelled with a valid passport and ticket."

Speaking to another television channel, Pratima said she wanted to meet Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt and narrate her side of the story.

"I'll tell him what I went through. My Olympics dream are gone. I don't want any other sportsperson to suffer as much as I did," she said.

Pratima alleged she was administered 11 spinal injections under the supervision of Sandhu.

"It was very painful, taking one such injection every day. Sandhu and Taranenko went all out to make me unfit."

Pratima said she had told Sandhu that her condition was getting worse, but he did not listen.

Pratima said Sandhu did not stand by her during the crisis.

"But I want to fight it out. May be, if possible, take part in the Olympics again, and give a fitting reply to such coaches."

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