IOA relieved Monica tested positive in India: deputy chef-de-mission

August 6th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

By V Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 6 (IANS) With the Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games still 48 hours away, news broke about Indian weightlifter Monica Devi testing positive for a banned substance and she was pulled out of the Games hours before she was to board the flight for the Chinese capital Tuesday night. And this is not the first time that the Indian contingent was embarrassed at a major Games. The deputy chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent, Baljeet Singh Sethi, said: “I can confirm that Monica will not be taking part in the Games because she failed a dope test at home.”

Sethi, the Secretary-General of the National Rifle Association of India said: “We are actually relieved it happened before she reached here because it would have shamed the country if she had failed a test at the Olympics.”

Monica Devi’s (69 kg category) selection came about in controversial circumstances. Shailaja Pujari (75 kg category) was selected before the federation had fresh trials after accusations surfaced about Shailaja offering some officials Rs. 500,000 to name her for the sole quota place India got for the discipline. In the fresh trials, Monica was chosen but the controversy refused to die down.

Monica, left behind in India, has been claiming innocence and accusing “some parties” of playing politics.

Sethi, the only official who went on record, was very critical of her and he said, “I can’t understand why athletes think they can get away with it because strict measures are in place to track down drug cheats. I hope the athlete and the federation concerned are punished.”

Indian weightlifting, which has been under a cloud for sometime, was facing a second positive test this year. Kavita Devi, a participant at the Asian Championships in Japan in April, had tested positive and banned for two years in May.

The Indian Weightlifting Federation itself had been suspended in 2006 and did not participate in the Doha Asian Games after several positive cases rocked the sport.

Monica tested positive at the Sports Authority of India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory in New Delhi.

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