Eyeing Tokyo, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu set for Nationals

The IWLF has formulated a ‘whereabouts’ rule to avoid recurrence of doping episodes; in the 2017 edition, at least 16 weightlifters had tested positive.

Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, an Olympic prospect, will be competing at the Nationals in Kolkata.   -  FILE PHOTO/C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Armed with stricter measures to curb doping, the National weightlifting championships is starting at the Khudiram Anusilan Kendra here on Monday.

The positive test of at least 16 weightlifters, mostly from outside the National camp, in the last edition of the championships in Visakhapatnam, was a major embarrassment for the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF).

For this edition, the IWLF has formulated its own ‘whereabouts’ rule – modelled on the practice followed by various anti-doping agencies and international federations – to avoid recurrence of such an episode.

“The lifters need to provide the information as to where and when they are training and under whom they are training in the last three months. We are sending these details to the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). Those who do not provide the details cannot take part in the National championships,” said IWLF secretary Sahdev Yadav.

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Some of the lifters who tested positive in Visakhapatnam had claimed that they were not aware of a substance, SARM, getting into the 2019 prohibited list. Asked about their claim, Yadav said, “We hold seminars. Everything is available on the websites and everyone is aware of the changes.”

On the competition front, the event will feature Olympic aspiring lifters including former World champion S. Mirabai Chanu (49kg) and former Youth Olympics gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg).

Such lifters will use the National championships to check their preparations ahead of the last Olympic qualifying event, the Asian championships to be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in April. They will be keen to gather valuable ranking points from the gold level event.

“All top lifters, including Mirabai, Jeremy, Achinta Sheuli and Rakhi Halder, will compete to see how their training is going on. Those who have a good chance to make it to the Olympics are training at 90 per cent now. We are working on strength and the idea is to peak at the right time,” said chief national coach Vijay Sharma.

Sharma said Mirabai, a medal contender in the Olympics, had done a total of 201kg and would like to improve her performance in the coming months.

The return of Railways’ Sanjita Chanu, who tested positive in the 2017 World championships, in women’s 49kg is another highlight of the National championships. The Commonwealth Games 53kg gold medallist became eligible to compete after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) revoked her provisional suspension in January last year.

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