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NEW DELHI: Who will pay the fine to help the Indian weightlifters compete in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games?
The Union Sports Ministry wants the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to resolve the matter quickly. It is not easy for the IOA, however. It recently sought the views of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the issue and was told that a National Olympic Committee (NOC) should not be seen to be aiding a federation that was fighting a disciplinary sanction. “We have been told by the IOC not to get involved in this because it would amount to abetting,” IOA Secretary-General Randhir Singh told The Hindu on Monday.
The IOA had more or less decided to pay up and bail out the Indian Weightlifting Federation last month before the ethical question came to the fore and the IOC's views were sought and obtained. The Union Sports Ministry has written a second time in two months to the IOA urging it to resolve the issue of fine imposed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on the Indian federation for turning in six “positive” doping cases last year.
Out of the fine of $5,00,000 imposed by the IWF, India is yet to pay $3,75,000 apart from individual fines and ‘B' sample testing charges amounting to $31,000 (total of Rs 1.89 crore).
The money has to be paid by August 31 for the Indian weightlifting team to be eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games and subsequently the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
The ministry, in its letter sent on Monday, noted that the IOA had been actively engaged in discussions with the IWF over the matter and because of its intervention the latter had agreed to defer the payment schedule from July 15 to August 31.
“You have also informed us that IOA is deciding on ways and means to assist Indian federation to comply with its obligations to the world body,” the letter noted.
In her letter to the IOA President, Suresh Kalmadi, the Secretary, Sports, Sindhushree Khullar, pointed out that the deadline was fast approaching and the IOA needed to resolve the matter immediately in order to ensure India's participation in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
The Government does not want to pay the fine and bail out the Indian federation lest it should be seen as abetting doping at a time when it is supposed to be fully backing the efforts of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in curbing the menace.
The Government is, however, sympathetic towards the cause of the weightlifters who have trained hard during the past year to be able to put up a good show at home.
Everyone wants to show off medals. And in the Commonwealth Games, weightlifting medals come rather easily for India. There were nine medals including three gold in the last edition in Melbourne. Unfortunately for India, the last two editions of the Games have shown up the doping trends in weightlifting in the country, with two lifters each turning up ‘positive'. In between, two others returned positive tests at the Athens Olympics also. India had to undergo two suspensions since 2004.
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