6 Aug :With firm backing from the Indian Weightlifting Federation, dope-tainted lifter Monika Devi on Wednesday claimed innocence and alleged that she was being victimised by some members of the Sports Authority of India.
Monika, the lone weightlifter chosen to represent India in the Beijing Olympic Games, was prevented from boarding the Beijing flight on Tuesday night for testing positive for a banned anabolic salt but the Manipuri said she had no idea which dope test she flunked as she cleared four tests in the last two months.
"I am innocent. I have always stayed away from doping and that is why I was selected in the trials," a tearful Monika told reporters at a press conference in New Delhi.
"Everyone knows there are various international tests and no sensible athlete would do that (dope). I am ready to go to Beijing where my dope test is scheduled for Thursday. If I fail there leave apart banning me for life, shoot me in public," she said.
Monika, who was selected ahead of Andhra weightlifter Shailaja Pujari in the Indian selection trials last month, claimed some people in the SAI were trying to make case for Shailaja due to regional allegiance.
"I had no clue about anything till 7.30 pm on Tuesday and at 10-10.30 it was all chaos. It was a pre-meditated move because they did not give me tickets and other stuff required for travelling to Beijing when I asked for it and told me to collect it on the next day," she said.
Monika claimed SAI Director (Teams) R K Naidu had already planned to send Shailaja.
"Naidu had told me after the Asian Championships in Japan in April that ‘our job of winning one Olympic berth was done and now Shailaja would be sent to represent the country in Olympics," she said.
IWF won’t take risk of sending Shailaja to Olympics
Andhra Pradesh weightlifter Shailaja Pujari, who was kept as the stand-by for the Olympic Games by the Indian Weightlifting Federation on Wednesday said she had no information if she would get a chance to represent the country in Beijing after Monika Devi failed the dope test.
"I had better performance than Monika in selection trials in Pune and Bangalore but IWF preferred Monika as the final candidate and kept me on the stand-by. Monika is not going now but I have no information if I will be sent there," Shailaja said.
But Indian Weightlifting Federation President Harbhajan Singh, admittedly "perturbed" by Monika returning positive tests for a banned substance, said that he could not take the "risk" of sending the Andhra lifter who had history of being a dope offender as it could invite ban on the IWF for third time.
"She (Shailaja) was kept as a stand-by because we thought we could get her a wildcard seat. But she has already twice served ban for dope offence and we cannot say with authority if she should represent the country," Harbhajan said.
"I cannot recommend her name. I cannot take such a big risk because if she tests positive again, it will invite ban on the Indian Federation," he said. Courtsey DDINEWS