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India sack weightlifting coaches

Kunal Pradhan | August 24, 2004 20:34 IST

India have sacked national weightlifting coach Pal Singh Sandhu and Belarussian Leonid Taranenko after two Indian lifters were caught for doping and expelled from the Athens Olympics.

Pratima Kumari (63 kg) tested positive for testosterone and her 53 kg team mate Sanamacha Chanu for a diuretic, which can be used to mask steroids. The two women were among seven lifters named last week after pre-Games testing in Athens.

"The government has terminated the contract of Leonid Taranenko, the foreign coach, and Pal Singh Sandhu with immediate effect," the Union Sports Ministry said on Tuesday.

"We have lost confidence in the two coaches in the wake of the doping incidents," the Ministry statement added.


The government and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have launched separate probes into the doping issue, which dealt a blow to India's already low sporting credibility at the Olympics.

Sandhu, in charge of Indian team for over a decade, and Taranenko, a former world champion, had been training the Indian four-member squad at Minsk, Belarus in the final run-up to the Olympics.

The 63-kg lifter, Kumari, had last week blamed Sandhu and Taranenko for giving her regular injections, which she said could have contained banned substances.

Kunjarani Devi finished fourth in the women's 48 kg category and the fourth Indian lifter at Athens, Karnam Malleswari, withdrew after just one failed snatch citing back problems.

Taranenko was the coach when Malleswari won India's lone bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

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