Ministry refutes allegations as Shailaja cries foul

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) The sports ministry today washed its hands of the ongoing controversy in the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) saying,''It is neither interfering nor influencing in the selection process of the federation.'' ''The ministry has nothing to do with the selection of Monika Devi for the Beijing Olympics in place of Shailaja Pujari,'' it asserted.

The ministry's clearification came after it was alleged that Monika was selected because some ''information was sent by Sports Ministry.'' Shailaja allegedly said that IWF Secretary B R Gulati had told her that ''some directive came from the Sports Ministry and that had clinched the issue for Monika''.

Shailaja claimed that Monika had won a silver and two bronze in the Asian Championship in Japan in April-May, ''but the achievement was due to team effort''.

''I lifted 236kg, 12 kg more than Monika, and my total is seventh in world rankings and naturally I have more chance to perform better in the Olympics,'' she added.

In the re-trial, Shailaja (75kg) lifted a total of 236kg (106kg snatch 130 clean and jerk) which placed her seventh in the latest rankings while Monika's (69kg) lift of 224kg ranks 15th.

Sport Ministry Joint Secretary I Srinivas however dismissed Shailaja's allegations ''I don't think there is any need to sensationalise the matter.

If anyone makes allegations, Sports Ministry cannot keep responding to him/her,'' he said.

Earlier, IWF General Secretary B R Gulati was accused of allegedly taking bribes to get Shailaja selected after the first selection trial in Pune on June 29.

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