Indian weightlifting stunned by bribery allegations

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New Delhi, Jul 1 (UNI) In a startling revelation, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) was today jolted by yet another controversy when its secretary was accused of accepting bribe to draft dope-tainted lifter Shailaja Pujari for the Beijing Olympics.

However, the IWF secretary B R Gulati has rubbished the accusations terming them as ''baseless'' and said during his entire career as a sports administrator, he had never been involved in any such shameful acts.

''All the allegations on me are baseless and I totally deny them. I want to reconfirm my integrity,'' Gulati said adding, ''In my couple of decades' as a sports administrator, I have never done such kind of things.'' Meanwhile, a top IWF official, who did not wish to be named, revealed that Gulati did receive Rs 5 lakh to select Pujari ahead of Monika Devi, who had already booked the only Olympic berth for India.

Weightlifter Monika, who won a silver and two bronze in 69 kg in the Asian Championship in Japan in April-May to make it to the Olympic games for India, along with Shailaja was shortlisted for the final selection after a trial at Army Sports Institute in Pune yesterday.

But according to the rule, the national federations usually prefer the quota winner to contest in the Olympics unless that player not available for the event.

The IWF, however, decided to hold the trials to see the best athletes for the Beijing Games and shortlisted Monika and Shailaja.

The final selection is due for July 15 and only one of them will represent the country in the Olympics while the other would be named as a reserve.

Gulati claimed that it was a team effort and Monika's effort would not have bore fruit if the team had not performed as a unit.

''It was team effort and Monika alone didn't fetch us the Olympic berth. The lone berth was according to the points secured by the team. In the Asian Championship we were placed fifth in the points table.

''Though, Monika's one silver and two bronze did contribute to India's finish at the fifth position but other lifters need to be credited for the effort,'' Gulati said.

UNI RAR PDT RK1900

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