The Indian Weightlifting Federation's latest action of suspending the Railways and Maharashtra units is against all anti-doping rules, conventions and laid-down procedures.

Even though it had incorporated stringent rules against erring units also in order to curb the menace of doping, the IWLF has jumped the gun this time since none of the lifters had been proceeded against so far.

Unless the lifters are brought before a hearing panel and they are declared guilty of violating an anti-doping rule, it cannot be asserted that any of them had committed an offence. A mere ‘positive' test or a confirmatory test on a ‘B' sample, in anti-doping parlance, is not proof of guilt.

The Nation Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which would be managing the ‘results management' process against the lifters is yet to initiate the proceedings.

Unless the lifters are declared ‘guilty', their units should remain eligible for participation, with a rider, even if the yet-to-be-completed process is a mere formality.

The IWLF has, through the years, stuck to a set of outdated anti-doping rules that have no relevance to the World Anti-Doping Code or the anti-doping rules of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). In fact there is not even a mention of IWF in its rules, amended up to February 21, 2010.

For a ‘positive' test in Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, it still retains the sanction of a life ban, though none has been banned for life for a first offence after the WADA objected to the IOA's initial sanction of a life-ban on lifters Pratima Kumari and Sanamacha Chanu following the 2004 Athens Olympics. Chanu is actually undergoing an eight-year suspension for a second offence at present.

The worst part is the assumption of the IWLF that a suspension could be slapped on an athlete immediately upon receipt of a ‘positive' report on the ‘B' sample test without completing a hearing process. There is no mention of the word ‘hearing' in its rules.

A timely, fair and impartial hearing process is the fundamental right of an athlete as incorporated in the WADA Code and the rules of all international and national bodies. Moreover, such a right is also available in the laws of the country.

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