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India lifter cleared of doping charge

Aug. 10, 2008, 2:34 a.m. (ET)

NEW DELHI (AP) India weightlifter Monika Devi has been cleared of doping charges, but the national Olympic committee says the reprieve has come too late for her to take her place in competition in Beijing.

The Indian Olympic Association said her entry for Beijing had been withdrawn and its chief representative at the games was quoted to say a new entry was not possible as entries had closed.

Devi was preparing to fly to Beijing last Tuesday when she was prevented from taking the flight due to a supposed doping offense. It was initially reported she tested positive for an anabolic substance.

Devi claimed she had been framed by Indian officials who were disappointed she was selected for Beijing ahead of their preferred lifter.

The Weightlifting Federation of India cleared Devi of any wrongdoing and appealed to the Sports Authority of India, which passed on the decision to the Indian Olympic Association to make the decision on whether she could be a late entry.

"There is no way Devi can compete. The entries closed on Aug. 7 for her event," Sunday Hindustan Times quoted India's Olympic contingent head Baljit Singh Sethi as saying in Beijing.

"Her name has been withdrawn. How can she compete?"

Devi, who was India's lone entry in Olympic weightlifting, said "I've always stayed away from illegal substances and that's why I was picked in the selection trials."

Indian weightlifting has been hit by a series of recent doping scandals, with three lifters banned since May. Repeated violations had caused India to twice be banned from international competition since the 2004 Athens Olympics.