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Dope Drama: IWF Clears Doping Charges Against Sanjita Chanu; Hoopster Amritpal Suspended; NADA Bans Boxer Neeraj

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Sanjita Chanu, having been cleared by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), has demanded an apology and further compensation for the mental trauma.
Weightlifter Sanjita Chanu's doping ban suspended

The IWF’s withdrawal of the suspension of Sanjita Chanu comes after a case involving several mistakes and missteps by the federation as well as WADA.

Three years after seeing her sample test positive for anabolic steroids, 2018 Commonwealth games gold medalist K Sanjita Chanu has been cleared of doping charges today. The weightlifter has further demanded the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) apologise and compensate her for the mental trauma and lost opportunity of participating at the Olympics. 

Chanu  tested positive for the anabolic steroid testosterone in a test carried out by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) prior to the World Championships in America in November 2017. The laboratory results of the tests conducted were handed to the international body on December 20. She was then put under a provisional suspension on May 15, 2018. Her ‘B’ sample returned positive on September 11 in the same year.

Last month, WADA revealed that it had partially suspended the accreditation of a laboratory in Salt Lake City, the one that tested Chanu’s sample, for a month in 2019 due to ‘non-conformities relating to its documents. On May 28 WADA notified IWF of ‘certain non-conformities’ that were found in Chanu's sample during the analysis. Based on recommendations of the doping agency the IWF has withdrawn all doping charges against the Manipuri weightlifter.

Also Read | Jithin Paul vs NADA: Doping and the Indian Athlete

“...WADA recommends - out of fairness to the athlete - that the case against the athlete based on the sample be closed'," an email released by the IWF read. “As a result [of the non conformities], the IWF has decided to withdraw the charges against the athlete based on sample 1599000 and to close the matter,” it added. 

Chanu who has always maintained her innocence expressed release at finally being vindicated, but also told PTI of the struggles she has faced in this time while living under a provisional ban. Chanu’s case has been marred by several anomalies and administrative goof-ups including assigning two different numbers to the same sample in a report submitted at the hearing panel. 

She pointed to several instances where she was threatened with dismissal and financial penalties, her signature forged along with her email account that have been used by others.

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"I am happy in the sense that I am finally and officially clear from the doping charges. But, what about the chances I have lost? Who will take the responsibility of the mental trauma I have been living with?" Chanu told PTI from Manipur.

"Who will take the responsibility for the mistakes that happened at every possible level? You put an athlete under suspension for years without a final judgment, and one fine day you send an email saying that you are now free from charges?" she added.

Chanu has blamed the IWF for robbing her chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and has demanded apology along with compensation for the mental trauma she had to go through. 

"Is this some kind of joke? Does IWF not care about the career of an athlete? Was it the intention of IWF to spoil my Olympic chances? Every athlete's ultimate dream is to get a medal in the Olympic Games, and at least participate in the Games. For me, that chance had been snatched by IWF," she said.

"This is not how IWF is supposed to function. IWF must apologise and give a genuine explanation. The responsible body or organisation or individual must be penalised. I will go to higher authority and demand compensation from IWF," she said.

OFFENDER RUSH

Meanwhile, the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) has suspended Basketball player Amritpal Singh, after  traces of the banned substance terbutaline were found in his urine sample during an out-of-competition test in Bengaluru. Singh is the  the only Indian to have been a part of Australia's National Basketball League (NBL). 

According to a report in the TImes of India, Amritpal has accepted the provisional suspension effective May 19 last month after waiving off his right for 'B' sample testing. The samples were collected during February 16 in Bengaluru during the national team preparatory camp for the FIBA 3x3 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers but due to the ongoing pandemic, the test arrived in May.

Singh wasn’t the only Indian athlete to have been suspended for doping in the past few days. International medal-winning woman boxer, Neeraj Phogat has also been banned for the use of performance enhancing drugs by the disciplinary panel of NADA for a maximum period of four years. The Haryana boxer’s ban period began on December 2, 2019 after she tested positive  for ligandrol and other anabolic steroids. Last year, Poghat won the gold medal at India Open in Guwahati and also won bronze at the Strandja Memorial tournament in Bulgaria.

International shooter Sharvan Kumar, who scored higher than champion Saurabh Chaudhary’s world record last year has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance propranolol, a beta blocker.

Sharvan, a junior and youth national champion represented India at the Tokyo Olympics qualifier, the 14th Asian Championship in Doha was tested on Feb 5 this year during the senior national selection trials in Thiruvananthapuram. He accepted the provisional suspension on May 22.

NADA has not made official statements about the suspension of Amritpal, Neeraj and Sharvan yet. 

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