IWF refutes allegations

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Pune, July 2 (UNI) Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Secretary General Sqn Ldr B R Gulati (Retd) has vehemently denied the allegation of receiving bribe to select the dope-tainted lifter Shailaja Pujari for the Beijing Olympics.

When contacted, Mr Gulati, while expressing shock and dismay, told UNI here today that the allegation leveled against him is ''totally fabricated, unsubstantial and a figment of imagination of an IWF official and a discredited coach for ulterior motives''.

A high ranking official of the federation, C B R Prasad, has reportedly made an allegation against Mr Gulati of having received Rs five lacs from Pujari. In fact, no selection has taken place as yet.

He said the IWF has decided to file a defamation suit against Mr Prasad, seeking damages to the tune of Rs one crore.

Mr Gulati said the performance of the lifters in the Asian Championship is no criteria in the selection. The criteria for the selection included the trial performance, previous performance, records in national and international events and success rate, dope record if any, the Sinclair Rating based on the trials performance and formula, placement in present world ranking as per latest chart, and age factor.

Mr Prasad, who runs a weightlifting academy in Hyderabad, is trying to tarnish the image of IWF, Mr Gulati said.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Pujari, who hails from a humble family background, has expressed dismay over the allegations. Speaking to UNI, Pujari said, ''Ours is a family which leads a hand-to-mouth existence. From where could we have arranged such an amount to bribe any one?'' Pujari had been banned for two years from 2006 after testing positive in a dope test.

Mr Gulati has been accused by Mr Prasad of sidelining Monica Devi of Manipur to favour Pujari. Monica Devi is presently undergoing selection trials at the Army Sports Institute here.

Speaking to UNI, Monica Devi stuck to her guns saying that it was she who should qualify for the Beijing Games on the basis of her performance in the Asian Championship in Japan last April.

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