New Delhi: Faced with the threat of suspension by the world body after two of its lifters tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has formed a five-member committee to look into it and conduct a hearing on December 3.
Two Indian women lifters - Pramila Krisani and Minati Sethi - failed dope tests during the recently concluded Commonwealth Championships at Pune and have been provisionally suspended from all competitions under the banner of the world body. The duo has also been subsequently dropped from the national squad for the World Championships in Houston, commencing on November 20.
"In the past also a number of Indian lifters had tested positive for banned substances but for the first time I am claiming that these two girls are innocent. Thus, we have formed a five-member committee to investigate into the matter. There will be a hearing on December 3," Indian Weightlifting Federation secretary general Sahdev Yadav told PTI.
As per international norms, three positive results in a calendar year lead to a one-year ban of the national federation. Thus, one more positive case can threaten India's participation in next year's Rio Olympics.
"We are still awaiting the two lifters' sample B report but till then their names have been taken out from the national squad's list for World Championships. But there is no question of the federation being banned as I am sure our lifters are not involved in any wrongdoings," he added.
At the Pune Commonwealth Championship, Pramila had won silver in the 53kg category, while Sethi had bagged a bronze in 58kg. Both of them tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
Yadav claimed that this was a conspiracy against the federation and the lifters.
"Both Pramila and Minati were tested on October 9th and they were totally cleared. The competition was on October 11 and both of them knew that dope test would take place 101 per cent. Knowing it, why would they consume something and make a fool of themselves?," questioned Yadav.
"Those two had never before tested positive. And the substance they have been tested positive for, remains in the body for a month. So there was no point for them to consume it. This is a conspiracy to bring disrepute to the Federation," he claimed.
The two lifters had been a part of the Olympic Games preparatory camp at Patiala for long a time and had never tested positive in any domestic meet or out-of-competition tests.
With Pramila and Minati testing positive, the number of positive dope tests from the core group of athletes, who are preparing for the Olympics, has shot up to seven. This has made India's chance of winning an Olympic berth tougher.
Earlier, in September, Jameer Hussian and Aporva Chettri, failed pre-departure tests conducted by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) ahead of the Asian Championship. Had they tested positive during the continental meet, the national body would have faced suspension.
The federation had been suspended in the past as well in 2004, 2006 and 2009. India had to pay Rs 2 crore penalty to the world body to participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.