NEW DELHI- India beamed with pride on the 24th of July this year, when Mirabai Chanu secured a silver medal in the women’s 49 kg weightlifting category on Day 1 of the Tokyo Olympics. The Chinese weightlifter Zhihui Hou’s gold win has come under controversy. She will be required to stay back in Tokyo to go through an anti-doping test, failing which the gold medal will be awarded to Chanu. The Olympic village was taken aback by the development.
Zhihui secured gold with a 94kg in Snatch and 116kg in Clean and Jerk, creating a new Olympic record of a total of 210 kg. Chanu earned the second-place finish while 87 kg Snatch and 115 kg Clean and Jerk totalled 202 kg. Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika followed with a total of 194 kg to win the bronze medal. But now, the tables seemed to have turned after the anti-doping inquiry.
The use of banned medications, substances, or therapies by athletes to increase athletic performance is referred to as “doping”. The consumption of such substances by athletes has been practised for millennia. However, it has recently gotten more attention because of a wide range of potential performance-enhancing drugs becoming available. This resulted in high-profile cases of doping by professional athletes being publicised in the media.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established to ensure that anti-doping policies and laws in sport organisations and governments around the world are consistent. Ruling out medications and drugs used for therapeutic purposes exclusively, WADA has banned the use of stimulants, cannabinoids, narcotics etc in the sports sphere. According to the World Anti-Doping Code, a substance or therapy is considered doping, if it fits two of the three listed criteria. The criteria are – it improves performance, it puts the athlete’s health in danger, or it goes against the spirit of the game.
Olympic medallists are routinely subjected to doping testing as per IOC (International Olympic Committee) and WADA guidelines. Yet, Hou’s case concerns an Adverse Analytical Finding. This means tests will be conducted to see if anything abnormal was found in the first sample. If a sportsperson fails a doping test, the rules specify that the silver medallist will automatically be awarded the gold. So we can rightfully assume that the Indian weightlifter still stands a chance to bring gold home.
Mirabai Chanu had started off the medal tally for India when she ‘struck silver’. She is the second weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to win a medal at the Olympics. She ended India’s 21-year wait for a medal in the weightlifting category. The champion was given a warm welcome back at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi for bringing pride to the nation.