A 16-year-old female Nigerian weightlifter, who was provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned substances, may soon be stripped of the 53-kilogram weight class gold medal.
Chika Amalaha tested positive for the diuretic Amiloride and masking agent Hydrochlorothiazide, both of which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The B sample of the Nigerian weightlifter also turned out to be positive. The 16-year old is set for a hearing now and it is almost sure that she would be stripped of the gold medal which she won.
Amalaha became the youngest female winner of a Commonwealth weightlifting title. The Nigerian weightlifter had set a new Games records in her weight category in both the snatch and overall elements.
Nigerian weightlifting has a history of drugs offences with the Nigerian Weightlifting Federation suspended in 2001 for repeated doping violations by the International Weightlifting Federation and banned from competing in the following year's Manchester Commonwealth Games after four athletes tested positive in 2001.
Nigeria's Sports Minister Tammy Danagogo expressed her sadness over the doping case. He believes Amalaha is innocent and issued a warning to coaches and officials who are found to have aided that any form of cheating would face severe sanctions from the National Sports Commission. The minister said the reported first sample drug-test failure of our female weightlifter is very embarrassing and he feels so saddened although he is still convinced that the 16-year-old Amalaha is innocent. Danagogo added nevertheless he must use his office as Sports Minister to enshrine tenets of integrity and fair competition in our sports, especially as it concerns the youths.
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said the doping case of Amalaha is proof that there is a strong anti-doping program in place. Hooper said it sends a strong message to anybody in any sport that if you go down the path of doping, any substance to enhance performance, they will be caught. Hooper said these substances (diuretics and masking agents) 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.
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 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. Reedie remarked he is very disappointed that somebody as young as that appears to have committed an offence at a multi-sport event like the Commonwealth Games. The World Anti-Doping Agency may now investigate how such a young athlete was given access to illegal substances.
India will now improve its medals tally at the Glasgow Games. If Amalaha is stripped of her gold medal, the medals of Dika Toua (Papua New Guinea) who won silver and Santoshi Matsa (India) who won bronze will be upgraded. India's Swati Singh, who finished fourth, would be promoted to bronze.
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