Cracking the whip on dope offenders, Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on Saturday handed life bans on three lifters, including 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Vicky Bhatta (56 kg), for their second dope offences.
The IWF, which is trying to cleanse weightlifting from the menace of doping, handed bans on Bhatta and two Services lifters G Damodaran (105 kg) and Rajesh Kumar Singh (94kg).
"We have handed life bans on Vicky Bhatta, G Damodaran and Rajesh Kumar Singh as they had failed dope tests for the second time. The federation is very serious on taking strong action on drug offenders. We want to clean up the dope menace and we are sending a strong message that we are not going to tolerate doping," IWF Secretary Sahadev Yadav said.
"Today, we have sent letters to the individual lifters and to their employers and state units," he added.
Bhatta returned positive for a banned drug during the 2007 National Games in Guwahati and he was among the six lifters who was caught for doping in the out-of-competition tests by WADA in Pune in September last year.
Bhatta will also have to return IWF $5,500, the money the national body had given to the international federation as fine for his dope offence and charge for undergoing 'B' sample test.
"We had given the International Body $5,000 as fine for Bhatta's dope flunk and then we had to deposit another $500 as he had asked for 'B' sample test after his 'A' sample, collected by WADA in Pune last September returned positive.
Now we have asked him to return to us the $5,5000," Yadav said.
Interestingly, Bhatta was handed a four-year ban by the International Weightlifting Federation -- till September 2013 -- as his last September dope flunk was the first under WADA test.
Damodaran tested positive in the Inter-Services Meet in Jamnagar in November last year. He first flunked dope test in the 2006 Senior National Championships in Visakhapatnam, for which he served a two-year-ban.
Rajesh Kumar was also one of the six lifters who flunked dope tests in the WADA out-of-competition tests last September, which led to IWF being handed a fine of $5 lakh by the international body.
He first tested positive in the 2006 Inter-Services Meet in Jamnagar.
Rajesh Kumar will also have to return the $5,000 the IWF had given to the international federation as fine for his dope flunk. He did not ask for 'B' sample test.
Following the dope flunk by six lifters in WADA out-of-competition test, 75-kg woman lifter Shailaja was handed life ban by International Weightlifting federation while the other five were banned for four years, till September 2013.
Besides Bhatta, Pujari and Rajesh Kumar, the other three lifters were Harbhajan Singh, Sunita Rani and Arambam Bijaya Devi.
Recently, 70 lifters did not turn for competition after sending entries for the Senior National Championships in Udaipur in January due to fear of being caught for doping as IWF had conducted large scale dope testing.