'Innocent' Monika Devi says she has been 'framed'

New Delhi, Aug 6 : Indian female weightlifter Monika Devi who was withdrawn from the Indian contingent for the Beijing Olympics 2008 after she failed dope test last evening, claimed innocence saying that she was a "victim of politics".

"I am innocent and I am being targeted. This according to me is politics played by Shailaja, along with the Association. I won't make such a mistake at all because I don't want to end my career like this," Monika said while addressing a hurriedly called press conference here today.

She said she has never touched any drugs. "I have never touched any illegal substance and I have never failed a dope test in my life. If all these claims are true I would even go to the extent of ending my life," she added.

Speaking about her close competitor P Shailaja who was a few days ago accused of bribing a top weightlifting official to secure a berth for Beijing Olympics, Monika said: "She has played dirty politics with me. How can the association recommend her name, after she has been dope tested positive almost five times. I have had 30 tests and all the tests have been negative. These are all tactics adopted by the Association to forbid me from participating at Beijing."

Terming the whole incident as a "foul play", Secretary of Weightlifting Federation of India, BR Gulati said, "We did not have any sort of intimation on the withdrawal. Once a member's name is given to the Olympic Association, he or she cannot be substituted. Only she will go and nobody else can go."

"We don't have a copy of the report and the air tickets for the games has also not been provided. She has been kept away from getting her ticket, and all this is unfair on her part," he added.

Monica tested positive for "anabolic" salt in a test conducted on June 29 and was withdrawn from the squad hours before she was to depart to Beijing.

Hailing from Manipur, Monika was the lone weightlifter in the 56-member strong contingent to represent India in the 69-kg female category at the Beijing Olympics, which begin from August 8.

Earlier this year, she won a silver and two bronze medals in the Asian Championships in Japan to book the berth for India in Olympics. In July this year she beat Shailaja Pujari of Andhra Pradesh in the pre-Olympic trial conducted by Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

Story first published: Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 15:11 [IST]
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