Nigerian Weightlifting Gold Medalist Fails Doping Test

Organizers of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have announced that a 16-year-old Nigerian weightlifter failed a doping test. This was after she became the youngest female to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the sport.

Nigerian weightlifter Chika Amalaha

Nigerian weightlifter Chika Amalaha tested positive for diuretics and masking agents after she won the 53-kilogram (117-pound) division. The "A" sample of Amalaha contained Amiloride and Hydrochlorothiazide, which are both banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The "B" sample of Amalaha will be tested in London after her request and she would be stripped of the gold medal if the second sample also comes back positive.

Mike Hooper, the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive, said we have issued a formal notice of disclosure to an athlete following an adverse analytical finding as a consequence of an in-competition test. Hopper added that athlete is Nigerian weightlifter Chika Amalaha who was tested on 25 July and that athlete has now been suspended from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Hooper went on to add that the substances are diuretics and masking agents that are on the prohibited list for two reasons – firstly in weight-category sports they can be used to unfairly aid weight loss and secondly, their use has been reported in attempts to mask the presence in the body of other prohibited substances.

The Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive also remarked the relevant processes, as detailed in our anti-doping standard for the Games, are now being followed and Ms Amalaha has pursued her right to have her B sample tested, which will take place at an accredited laboratory in London on 30 July. When asked about the legitimacy of weightlifting as a Commonwealth Games sport because of its history of drug-related incidents, Hooper said he thinks weightlifting is a fantastic sport and a strong Commonwealth and Olympic sport. He also remarked he thinks the issue here is about showing we have a robust anti-doping program in place and we want to send a message to anybody in any sport who would go down the route of taking any substance to enhance performance that they will be caught.

The sport has been marred by doping allegations for many years. In 2006, the then CGF president Mike Fennell said (after two Indian lifters tested positive at the Melbourne Games in 2006) that if the thing gets totally out of hand and it is not being corrected, then obviously we’ll have to take the strongest possible action. Nigerian weightlifting is not new to drug offences. In 2011, the Nigerian Daily Times newspaper reported that a tour of the national stadium earlier this year revealed discarded cases of used syringes, empty injectable vials of Stanozolol and Sustanon, packets and bottles of different anabolic substances.

Meanwhile, WADA officials are investigating how someone of Amalaha's age had access to banned substances. WADA President Craig Reedie said he is rather saddened and disappointed this has happened to a 16-year-old. Reedie added we will need to see if the 'B' sample matches the 'A' and then if it does the girl will be removed from the games and it will be up to the International Weightlifting Federation to apply a sanction and then she would lose her medal.

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