M A I N   N E W S

Disastrous day for India
2 lifters test positive, lose in hockey, tennis
M. R. Mishra

Pratima Kumari
Pratima Kumari

Athens, August 19
Two Indian women weightlifters — Pratima Kumari and Sanamacha Chanu — were disgraced following positive dope tests at the Olympic Games here today.

Before the day’s events came to a close, India’s cup of woes were filled to the brim when the men’s hockey team were stunned by a last-minute winner by Australia to go down 3-4 in their crucial group B encounter.

A few hours earlier, tennis hopes Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were beaten by their German opponents Nicholas Kiefer and Rainer Shuettler in straight sets in the men’s doubles semifinal to make it one of the darkest days in the annals of the country’s chequered sports history.

The day started on a dismal note with the news that 28-year-old Pratima Kumari had tested positive for testosterone, an anabolic steroid, during a test conducted on the eve of the games.

Pratima was in the start list of the 63 kg class competition held yesterday, but did not turn up for her event. She has now returned home.

Later in the day, Sanamacha Chanu too was declared a dope offender for having taken a banned diuretic, for weight shedding, before competing in the 53 kg class event on August 15.

“Sanamacha Chanu has tested positive in the dope test. She was tested after her event and the International Olympic Committee informed us of the result today,” Indian contingent’s Chef-de-Mission Harish Sharma said.

Pratima and Chanu were two of the six weightlifters who were declared to have flunked the dope test conducted by the International Weightlifting Federation and five of them have been suspended.

The others were Wafa Ammouri of Morocco, Zoltan Kecskes of Hungary, Viktor Chislean of Moldova and Sule Sahbaz of Turkey.

Even as the Indian camp was reeling from the double blow, Paes and Bhupathi went down 2-6, 3-6 to the unseeded German pair in men’s doubles to blow away their gold medal hope.

At best they can claim a bronze by winning the play-off on August 21.

The hockey team is also pretty much out of medal contention following the 3-4 loss to Australia, one of the world’s top teams. A slack defence at the fag end of the game enabled the Aussies to break the 3-3 deadlock when Michael Brennan scored the match-winner by deflecting home from close range. — PTI

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