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Shailaja provisionally suspended

March 01, 2006 16:37 IST

Lifter Pujari Shailaja, a strong gold medal contender at the upcoming Commonwealth Games, was on Wednesday provisionally suspended for testing positive for a banned drug.

The 22-year-old Shailaja was found to have traces of the banned substance Stanozol during a random out-of-competition test by World Anti-Doping Agency officials during their recent visit to Patiala.

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"Report has been received from International Weightlifting Federation that her (Shailaja's) sample has returned adverse analytical findings such as Stanozol, a metabolite of Stanozolol, which is an anabolic steroid. We are shocked to receive the report of the positive finding," IWF general secretary Balbir Singh Bhatia said on Wednesday.

"Shailaja has been provisionally suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). We are requesting the world body for testing her 'B' sample," he added.

Immediately after receiving the communication from the world body, the Indian Weightlifting Federation decided to pull her out of the squad for the Commonwealth Games.

"The Indian Weightlifting Federation has also pulled her out of the team for the Commonwealth Games. Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been requested to remove her from the on-going camp at NIS, Patiala," he said.

Shailaja, the Manchester Commonwealth Games gold medallist and the best women lifter of Commonwealth Championships in Melbourne last year, was the only lifter to fall in the doping net out of the 12, whose samples were collected by a WADA team on February 4.

A team of 28 lifters -- 15 women and 13 men – are attending a training camp ahead of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games at NIS Patiala since January 5.

The withdrawal of Shailaja leaves Geeta Rani as the only other Indian contender in the 75 kg division.

According to reports, the WADA officials had came following some athletes, especially discus thrower Harvant Kaur, who finished their training before schedule in South Africa and then were absent from the camp at Patiala during the team's surprise visit.

All the 17 athletes who went missing from the camp have been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Federation of India and a decision on them is likely later today.

This is the second instance that Shailaja has been under the scanner for doping. The lifter was banned by the national body for two years after she tested positive in a junior national competition in 2003.

Shailaja had come out clean after a spate of dope tests at various international and domestic meets last year at Asian Championships at Dubai in September, Commonwealth Championships at Melbourne in October, and World Championships in Doha in November. At least seven tests were conducted at the domestic level nationals and coaching camps.

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