India's weightlifting coach quits

Egyptian coach resigns after long running dispute.

    Satheesha Rai of India attempts a lift [GALLO/GETTY]
    India's Egyptian weightlifting coach has quit after a lengthy row with federation chiefs, during which he alleged doping by the country's senior lifters.

    Magad Salama, who forwarded his resignation to the state-run Sports Authority of India (SAI) some time ago, said he was waiting for it to be accepted so he could return home.

    "I didn't get an answer, but maybe today or tomorrow I will," he said.

    "I'm closing this thing, I don't have any relationship with weightlifting in India," he said. "I don't have any comment about the situation here."

    A senior SAI official confirmed Salama's resignation was on the verge of being accepted.

    India's lifters were thrust into the spotlight when positive tests in high-profile competitions led to a suspension in 2006.

    Even though the country's only medal at the Sydney Olympics was won by a weightlifter, so far no Indian lifters have qualified for the Beijing Games.

    A senior federation official said Salama had demanded a free hand to pick mostly juniors for the upcoming Asian championship, an Olympic qualifying event, after he had raised concerns about doping by senior lifters.

    The federation secretary Balbir Bhatia said existing selection procedures could not be totally ignored.

    "He has given media statements that Indian lifters are on drugs," Bhatia said.

    "You can't call a man a thief unless there is proof."

    He said that from an estimated 75 tests conducted on Indian lifters in the past year, only one, a junior male, had tested positive.

    The coach was also upset when many weightlifters boycotted a training camp.

    Bhatia said some juniors stayed at their regional centres to concentrate on studies and others remained at a camp run by the army.

    "Our stand is we will hold trials and whoever performs well will be picked by the selection committee," he said.

    "We told him he should understand the system in the country."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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