Provisional suspension of ‘doped’ CWG gold medallist weightlifter Sanjita revoked

The 25-year-old Sanjita, who had won a gold in the women's 53kg category at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, had tested positive for anabolic steroid testosterone, but the test was not foolproof

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New Delhi: The International Weightlifting Federation has revoked the provisional suspension on weightlifter K Sanjita Chanu for a failed dope test, a major reprieve for the two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist who has claimed innocence.

In a case that has dragged on for almost a year and has been marred by an “administrative” goof-up in Sanjita’s sample number, the IWF informed that a final decision on the matter is expected in the coming days.

“On the basis of the information at its disposal, the IWF has decided that the provisional suspension of the athlete (Khumukcham Sanjita) shall be lifted as of today (22 January 2019),” IWF’s legal counsel Eva Nyirfa said in an e-mail sent to the national federation and Sanjita.

“The IWF Hearing Panel will render its decision on the athlete’s case in due course,” it added.

The 25-year-old Sanjita, who had won a gold in the women’s 53kg category at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, had tested positive for anabolic steroid testosterone. Her urine sample was taken prior to the World Championships in the United States in November 2017, and she was put under provisional suspension from 15 May last year.

A final decision of the IWF panel is yet to come but Sanjita said her assertion of innocence has been vindicated.

“I have got a mail from the international federation and our national federation has also called me up this morning informing about the lifting of the (provisional) suspension. I am relieved and happy. I am innocent and I have never taken any banned substance in my career. I am vindicated now,” she said.

“At the same time, I experienced mental trauma during these past 8-9 months (since 15 May last year) due to the mistake of the international federation. I hope nothing like this happen to any athlete in future. An athlete’s reputation is very precious,” she added.

Sanjita said the Indian Weightlifting Federation had asked her to join the national camp immediately if she wants.

“The federation official told me today to write if I want to join the national camp. I am doing that. I missed the Asian Games and World Championships in 2018. I want to compete in the World Championships this year and qualify for 2020 Olympics. For any athlete, Olympics is the ultimate,” she said.

The international body informed about her doping offence only in May last year. That meant the Manipuri weightlifter participated in the Gold Coast CWG, where she finished top of the podium. She had also won gold in the 48kg in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The IWF had, in July last year, admitted to committing a mistake in giving the exact sample number of Sanjita in its report. The world body had mentioned two different urine sample numbers in its communication of her dope flunk.

The urine sample of Sanjita was taken out-of-competition on 17 November 2017 and the laboratory results of the tests conducted in the United States was handed to the international body on 20 December.

The communication of her failed dope test was given to Sanjita only on 15 May last year and her ‘B’ sample returned positive on 11 September.
Her representatives then appeared before an IWF hearing panel on 19 October in Budapest, Hungary. She presented her submissions on 19 October itself and on 1 November.

In a communication to Sanjita — a rare instance while a doping procedure is ongoing — the IWF hearing panel had said that “the case appears to be complicated”.

Sanjita’s doping issue even reached the Prime Minister’s Office which directed the Sports Ministry to look into the matter.