India CWG champion lifter Sanjita Chanu cleared of doping charges

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International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has cleared India’s K Sanjita Chanu of anti-doping violation over charges brought up in November 2017 citing “non conformities” in the handling of her sample. The Manipur lifter had tested positive for testosterone, a banned anabolic steroid, in an out-of-competition test conducted by the United States Anti Doping Agency before taking part in the 2017 world championships in Las Vegas. The 26-year-old 53kg lifter expressed relief, and looked ahead. “It will give me an opportunity now to apply for the Arjuna Award as the date has been extended,” she said on phone from Imphal. The last date for submission is June 22.

Chanu is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist—at Glasgow in 2014 (48kg) and in Gold Coast in 2018 (53kg). Her exoneration comes two days after the lifter, who has denied any wrongdoing, threatened to sue to world body for damages as the case dragged on. On Wednesday, she told AFP: “I will talk to a counsel and take legal action against the world body and seek damages. I am relieved yes, but what about the time I have lost?”

IWF legal counsel Lilla Sagi sent an email to the lifter on Monday informing that the case has been closed following the recommendation of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

“On May 28, WADA had informed IWF that “due to certain non-conformities at the time of the analysis of the sample with the IRMS analytical method of the laboratory (which have since been corrected to the satisfaction of the WADA Laboratory Expert Group), WADA recommends --out of fairness to the athlete-- that the case against the athlete based on the sample be closed.” As a result, IWF has decided to withdraw the charges against the athlete based on sample 1599000 and to close the matter,” IWF said in a letter to Chanu.

Although Chanu failed the test in November 2017, she was provisionally suspended by IWF only in May 2018. That allowed her to participate in the Gold Coast CWG in April that year, and she won gold.

The last two years had been mentally draining for the family due to the stain of doping on Chanu, her brother Bijen Kumar said. “Since Chanu was provisionally suspended, she couldn’t compete in IWF-sanctioned events and missed the chance to participate in the Olympic qualification cycle,” he said.

Chanu had appeared before the IWF hearing committee in Budapest and the panel decided to lift the provisional suspension on January 22, 2019.

“We are yet to think of compensation as we had to spend more than R25 lakh in travelling and in legal expenses,” Kumar said.

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