Samoa fights ban on weightlifter

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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Ms Iuniarra Sipaia.

Ms Iuniarra Sipaia.

The International Weightlifting Federation is reviewing their decision to ban a top female weightlifter after she was tested positive for using a banned substance.

The review of the decision again Iuniarra Sipaia was confirmed by President and Coach of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Asiata Wallwork.

“I received a letter from the International Weightlifting Federation and they are seriously relooking at the matter,” he told the Samoa Observer.

“Up until now we still haven’t received an official notification.

“They asked me to send them the confirmation by the doctor of when Iuniarra Sipaia had been injected but the doctor did send them a letter.”

Tu’aopepe said what happened was very unfortunate.

“I didn’t want to blame the doctor,” he said.

“We went to him so many times and asked him to please examine it if this was a banned substance and he said no.

“But I didn’t want to blame him but the fact of the matter is that the blame is on him because we have asked him so many times and he kept saying no it’s not a banned substance and he had a list and he said it’s not on his list.

“This substance had just been banned last year and we got called in March this year so we weren’t aware and maybe the doctor wasn’t aware, I mean nobody from Samoa was aware of this.”

He said the I.W.F. should have informed everyone of this matter.

“The I.W.F. should have informed us because they have a list, but we don’t know most of the terms in that list so they should’ve informed us,” said Tuaopepe.

“It’s an innocent substance that does not make any lifter strong, but it’s an injection that takes away the pain and swollen in knees and Iuniarra had a bad knee injury.

“She had serious pain on her knees and she could hardly walk so we went to the doctor and he said this injection will help. Our lifters had been using this for so many years starting from Ele Opeloge and the others before that.

“All our top lifters had that on the knees and I was shocked when we got the advice last month.”

Tuaopepe said the news had really affected Iuniaara.

“This has really affected her in a way that she is embarrassed to go anywhere,” he said.

“As her coach, I check up on her and I told her to not feel down because she hasn’t done anything wrong.

“I told her to lift her head up and keep doing what she loves.

“She doesn’t come to training anymore because she is too embarrassed, she texted me the other day and told me that she’s depressed and that she does not want to go anywhere because her reputation had been ruined.

“She doesn’t know where to go because weightlifting is her life and I know this is her life.

“Weightlifting is Iuniaara’s life and she had been in the federation for so long, she came in when she was young and she has grown up in this competition.

“So now I have sent them all that they asked for, but normally they just advise and that’s it, but this is the first time they come back and review everything so I am hoping this will come to an end.

“I’m hoping that their decision comes soon and it will be a positive one because this young girl depends on weightlifting.”

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