16-year-old Nigerian weightlifter at risk of losing Commonwealth Games gold after failing drug test


Chika Amalaha of Nigeria. (Alastair Grant/AP)

Chika Amalaha’s gold medal-winning weightlifting abilities seemed unbelievable to those who watched the 16-year-old Nigerian compete in Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games last Friday. Now, a failed drug test might be proving they actually were. The Associated Press reports:

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.

Amalha hasn’t had her medal stripped from her yet, but if the backup “B” sample test comes back positive on Wednesday it will be.

The slight teenager set a Commonwealth Games record in her weight category by lifting a total of 432 pounds, 18 pounds more than the previous record, the AP reports. If Amalaha’s medal gets striped, Dika Toua of Papua New Guinea will be the new champion.

As for the future of weightlifting — a sport that has experienced ongoing issues with doping — in the games, Mike Hooper, the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive, is not too worried. He told The Guardian:

“I think weightlifting is a fantastic sport and a strong Commonwealth and Olympic sport. I think the issue here is about showing we have a robust anti-doping program in place. We want to send a message to anybody in any sport who would go down the route of taking any substance to enhance performance that they will be caught.”

Not counting Amalaha, 10 weightlifters have been sanctioned in 2014 for failing drug tests, according to the International Weightlifting Federation. All received suspensions of two years. In 2013, a whopping 90 lifters were sanctioned, including four who were suspended from competing in the sport for life.

 

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.

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Marissa Payne · July 29, 2014