Nigerian weightlifter, 16, fails drug test after winning gold
A 16-year-old Nigerian weightlifter failed a doping test after becoming the youngest ever female to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the sport, organizers said Tuesday.
Chika Amalaha has been provisionally suspended from the Glasgow Games after testing positive for diuretics and masking agents after winning the 53-kilogram (117-pound) division last Friday.
Amalaha’s "A" sample contained amiloride and hydrochlorothiazide, which are both banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Amalaha asked for the backup "B" sample to be tested, which will happen in London on Wednesday.
Amalaha would be stripped of the gold medal if the second sample also comes back positive.
WADA is set to investigate how someone so young had access to banned substances.
"I am rather saddened and disappointed this has happened to a 16-year-old," WADA President Craig Reedie told The Associated Press. "We will need to see if the `B’ sample matches the `A.’ Then if it does the girl will be removed from the games and it will be up to the international weightlifting federation to apply a sanction and then she would lose her medal.
"WADA will look at the circumstances surrounding this case once we know the full facts."
The test was part of an anti-doping program at the games targeting specific sports based largely on intelligence, rather than testing every medal winner.
"It shows we have a very robust anti-doping program in place," Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said. "It sends a strong message to anybody in any sport that if you go down the path of doping, any substance to enhance performance, they will be caught … it’s an ongoing battle."
Amalaha set Commonwealth Games records in her weight category with a total of 196 kilograms (432 pounds), breaking the previous mark of 188 kilograms (414 pounds). Dika Toua of Papua New Guinea won silver and Santoshi Matsa of India earned the bronze.
Amalaha said last week that she took up weightlifting despite opposition at home.
"I started at the age of 12, but my family were strongly against me doing the sport at first," she said. "They kept me telling to stop doing it, but I persuaded them by getting a female coach.
"From then on, it was hard work, training, a lot of pain and dedication that got me here today. And now my family were in the audience and they are so excited and so proud."
The positive test is the latest setback for weightlifting, which has been marred by doping cases. Nigeria’s weightlifting team didn’t compete at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester because of a doping ban imposed in 2001 after four members of the squad failed drug tests.
Four years ago in New Delhi, three Nigerian runners failed doping tests. Folashade Abugan was stripped of silver medals in the women’s 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay after testing positive for a steroid. Osayomi Oludamola had her gold medal in the 100 meters taken away after testing positive for a banned stimulant and hurdler Samuel Okon, who did not win a medal, also tested positive.
Hooper told The Associated Press on Sunday that about 1,500 random doping tests would be conducted in total in Glasgow. About two-thirds will be carried out during the competition, with the rest completed before the games began on July 23.
Two Welsh athletes had to withdraw over doping offenses committed ahead of the Glasgow Games.
European 400-meter hurdles champion Rhys Williams was ruled out on Friday after being charged with an anti-doping violation at the Glasgow Grand Prix on July 11.
His Welsh teammate, Gareth Warburton, who had been due to compete in the 800 meters at the Commonwealth Games, is going through a U.K. Anti-Doping disciplinary procedure after being charged with earlier anti-doping offenses.