No reduction in Kunjarani's suspension

NEW DELHI, AUG. 30. There is no possibility of reducing the six- month suspension handed out to lifter Kunjarani Devi. According to the anti-doping rules of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), it imposes a six-month suspension for a first offence involving banned substances such as stimulants. Kunjarani Devi's urine sample `A' was tested positive for the stimulant, strychnine, at a Seoul laboratory after the Asian weightlifting championship held in Jeon Ju, Korea, in July.

The speculation that her suspension may be reduced after her appeal to the international body for leniency stands negated as there is no provision for it in the IWF anti-doping rules. The assumption, that suspension for stimulant can vary from one to six months was based on the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Anti-doping Code.

The IWF code strictly states that six months suspension will apply for a first offence involving a substance of the IOC Medical Code's prohibited classes of substances and prohibited methods, other than anabolic agents, peptide hormones, masking agents, diuretics and or pharmacological, chemical and physical manipulation of urine. A second offence carries suspension of two years and a third offence leads to a life ban.

Kunjarani's appeal may also not carry any weight as the IWF appeal clause states that any appeal must be accompanied by $ 500, which is refundable if the appeal is upheld. The lifter, who faxed her three-page appeal to the Budapest-based organisation on Tuesday evening, however, has not sent any money along with her appeal. Also, a suspended individual can appeal, within 30 days, against the decision only on the grounds if sampling and testing procedures were not in accordance with the IWF Anti-doping Policy and the IOC Medical Code, and cast doubt on the validity of the result of the test. Secondly, the onus was on the individual to prove to the Appeal Committee that the decision to impose sanction should not have been reached.

As against the IOC's Anti-doping Code, under which a drug cheat could be slapped a fine of up to $ 100,000, the IWF Anti-doping Policy does not talk about any financial penalty to an individual.

Instead, the weightlifting body imposes a fine of $ 1,000 and the cost of the analysis on the National Federation of the lifter. The fine must be paid to the IWF within 30 days from the date of the demand and until the fine is paid the national federation is debarred from entering any competitors in any international competitions.

Interestingly, the IWF can choose to proceed with the `B' sample analysis, on its own regardless of whether the concerned lifter has asked for it or not.

Once the `B' sample is confirmed, the National federation shall notify the athlete in writing about the sanctions. Another chance is given after that for an appeal.