She is happy about the provisional suspension being lifted but Indian weightlifter Sanjita Chanu Wednesday said fighting dope charges, a battle that is not yet over, had left her so distraught that she was on the verge of quitting the sport.
The two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist got a major reprieve from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), which lifted the provisional suspension on her imposed last year for a failed dope test in 2017. The 25-year-old’s final fate in the matter is yet to be announced by a hearing panel of the world body.
“I am happy that the provisional suspension has been lifted and I am confident that a favourable decision is coming from the hearing panel of the IWF. But at the same time, I am distraught thinking about the mental trauma I went through,” Sanjita told PTI from her home in Manipur.
“I was so sad and helpless that I thought of quitting the sport. I told my parents that I will also resign from my job (of a senior TTE in Indian Railways). I could not eat and sleep properly. Life was meaningless for me,” she added.
“But somehow my family convinced me that it is better to prove my innocence before taking these extreme steps.”
Sanjita currently works with the North Eastern Frontier Railway in Dimapur in Nagaland and she said her promotion has also been kept in abeyance due to the doping case.
“I know what is a banned substance and what is not and all this is told at national camps regularly. All of a sudden I was told, I failed a dope test and that too six months after the sample was taken and after I had won a gold in the CWG,” Sanjita said.
“It is really painful to cope with doping charges for an athlete who has never used a banned substance. I am innocent and I am vindicated now. The doping charge has dented my reputation,” said Sanjita who won a gold each in the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 48kg and 53 kg categories respectively.
Sanjita’s doping case has dragged for more than a year. Her urine sample was taken out-of-competition on November 17, 2017 and the laboratory results of the tests conducted in the United States, were handed to the international body on December 20.
The communication of her failed dope test was given to Sanjita only on May 15 last year and her ‘B’ sample returned positive on September 11. In between, the world body admitted to an “administrative” goof-up in giving the exact sample number on its report.
Her representatives then appeared before an IWF hearing panel on October 19 in Budapest, Hungary. She also gave submissions on November 1.
Sanjita rued the year that was lost to the controversy and vowed to come back stronger after missing the Asian Games and the World Championships in 2018. .
”...I want to come back and win medals for the country. The federation has told me that I can join the national camp if I want and I am doing that. I want to compete in the World Championships this year and qualify for the 2020 Olympics,” she said.
“I have learnt certain things that when you are down and out, you have to run around for help from others and not the other way round. But I will let bygones be bygones.”