IOA shuts out 'cleared' Monika from Beijing
Source: The Sangai Express / PTI

Beijing/New Delhi, August 09: Weightlifter Monika Devi was today cleared of dope charges by Sports Authority of India (SAI) but there appeared to be little chances of her taking part in the Beijing Olympics.

"All doping charges against Monika have been cleared by SAI but IOA has not agreed to send her to Beijing on the ground that time is very short and they won't be able to reopen the entry process for her but they will be trying to send her to Beijing tonight," Manipur Sports Minister N Biren Singh said.

The clearance for the lifter from Manipur, who was pulled out of the Indian squad for Beijing Olympics almost at the eleventh hour on July 7 after she had reportedly tested positive for anabolic stereoid, came after Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here today.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said there was little time left for Monika to take part in the 69kg competition of the Olympics since and International Olympic Committee would not reopen the entry process for her.

Protest by sportsmen in Manipur

Biren, who was also present at the meeting, said "we urged the Prime Minister to ensure removing favouritism and neopotism from the selection procedure for sports persons".

Asked what was Prime Minister's response, Biren said "he assured us to look into the matter".

Earlier, Manipur Olympic Association (MOA) had decided not to participate in any national championship and coming National Games if Monika was not sent to Beijing as part of the Indian Olympic team.

Biren Singh said the Manipur government was not happy with IOA "refusing" to allow Monika to travel to Beijing because of time constraint.

Biren and Monika, who was present here today, demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the whole episode.

The Manipur Sports Minister said the lifter should be allowed to participate in the Olympics as she has a "great chance of winning a medal for the country".

Amidst reports that Monika Devi has been cleared of dope charges, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) insisted it was too late for her to take part in the Beijing Olympics.

"It is too late for Monika to come to Beijing now and take part in the Olympic Games because we have closed the entry process," IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh told PTI.

Asked if IOA President Suresh Kalmadi could do anything to help Monika take part in the 69kg weight category competition scheduled for August 13, Randhir said it was not possible at this level.

"What can Mr Kalmadi do? It is not National Games.

It is Olympic Games and only IOC can take a decision," said Randhir who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Deputy Chef-de-Mission of Indian Olympic contingent in Beijing Baljit Singh Sethi said, "Monika just cannot take part in the Beijing Olympics.

"As of now, the organisers have not accepted her entry and to be honest I don't see her competing here," Sethi added.

Asked to confirm if Monika was indeed coming here, Sethi said, "See, you cannot stop anyone from coming here.

"But the thing is she cannot take part.

Her name has been withdrawn and how can she compete? She will not be allowed to enter the Olympic village".

Singh pointed out the draw of contestants in the 69kg category has been drawn up and Monika's name does not figure in that.

The weightlifter from Manipur reportedly tested positive for an unnamed anabolic steroid on August 6 and was pulled out of the Beijing-bound Indian squad hours before the flight to Chinese capital.

Manipur CM meets Prime Minister: Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is believed to have taken up the issue of weightlifter L Monika Devi's exclusion from the Indian Olympic team.

The Chief Minister is understood to have taken up the issue, which has sparked widespread protest in Manipur, with the Prime Minister, official sources said.

A 24-hour general strike was observed in Manipur yesterday in protest against the dropping of Monika from the Indian team to Beijing.

Monika's exclusion in the team became a major issue, in Manipur with sports associations organising rallies to protest against the dropping of Monika from the team.

Stopped from boarding the flight to Beijing after it was reported that she tested positive for a banned substance, Monika Devi had on Wednesday said she was innocent.

India's lone entry in the Olympic weightlifting competition, told reporters she had been selected for the Olympics because of her clean record.

"I'm innocent.

I've always stayed away from illegal substances, and that's why I was picked in the selection trials," said Monika.

"Shoot me if I'm guilty.

Everyone knows there are stringent tests in international competitions and no sensible athlete would resort to doping".

Devi said she had been framed by officials who wanted another woman weightlifter to compete in the Olympics.

The Press Trust of India reported Tuesday that Devi tested positive for an anabolic substance in a test conducted by the Sports Authority of India on June 29 .

Indian Olympic contingent's leader Baljit Singh Sethi confirmed Wednesday that Devi's entry had been withdrawn.

"I can confirm that Monika will not be taking part in the games," PTI quoted Sethi as saying from Beijing.

"We are actually relieved it happened before she reached Beijing," Sethi said.

Repeated doping violations by Indian weightlifters have led India to be banned twice from international competitions since the 2004 Olympics in Athens.