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Lifter Monika picked ahead of Shailaja for Olympics
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July 15, 2008 20:01 IST

Weightlifter L Monika Devi was on Tuesday unanimously chosen ahead of Shailaja Pujari to represent the country at the Beijing [Images] Olympic Games after a selection trial in Bangalore, bringing to an end a selection controversy and allegations of bribery.

Monika, who won a silver and two bronze medals at the Asian Championships in Japan [Images], in April-May, to book the lone berth for India, will compete in the 69kg category while Shailaja (75kg) will be the reserve lifter.

"Monika was chosen for the Olympics [Images] by a unanimous decision of the selection committee. I am happy that everything went off smoothly during the trials," Indian Weightlifting Federation president Harbhajan Singh [Images] said from Bangalore.

"Dev Dutt Sharma will accompany Monika as coach in Beijing," he added.

Monika and Shailaja were shortlisted for the final selection trial after an earlier trial in Pune on June 29 resulted in allegations of IWF general secretary B R Gulati being bribed to select Shailaja ahead of Monika.

Gulati had rubbished the allegations as "baseless".

Pujari, who came out of a two-year doping ban in February, had outclassed Devi in the June 29 trials but the Sports Ministry said she flouted the rules.

"It is learnt that Pujari used four types of knee bandages at a time and took advantage of reinforcement, which is against the rules of the International Weightlifting Federation," the Ministry had said in a letter to Gulati, and ordered a probe into the bribery allegations, asking the IWF to annul the trial and hold another one at the NIS, Patiala.

The IWF followed the ministry's diktat and held the repeat selection trial at SAI Centre, Bangalore, on Tuesday.

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