Lankan boxing star stripped of gold medal

Sri Lanka’s Manju Wanniarachchi (left) is overwhelmed after his victory against Sean McGoldrick of Wales in the Commonwealth Games bantam weight boxing final. (FILE)

Sri Lanka’s boxing star Manju Wanniarachchi has been formally stripped of the gold medal he won at last year’s Commonwealth Games for failing a drugs test.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Court on Sunday awarded it to Sean McGoldrick of Wales who lost a narrow decision in the final of bantamweight division in New Delhi last October.

Wanniarachchi became a national sporting hero after ending Sri Lanka’s 72-year wait for boxing gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

But the CGF court rejected claims from 30-year-old Wanniarachchi that he should not be punished following a positive test for nandrolone.

The Sri Lankan fighter was due to appear before the Federation Court in Jamaica in January, but the hearing was postponed until May 8 when officials met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Federation Court has given decision but under the CGF Anti-Doping Standards there is now a 21-day window for the athlete to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“We understand that this has been a long process for all involved and we hope that it is finalised as soon as possible,” Federation court chairman and CGF vice-president Tunku Imran, told reporters from Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Wanniarachchi’s lawyers have vowed to carry on his fight to try to keep his Commonwealth Games gold medal claiming that there was a breakdown in the chain of custody after a sample was taken and it being transported to the drugs laboratory in Delhi.

Among the allegations produced by Wanniarachchi’s lawyer Kalinga Indatissa was that some of the numbers on the official documentation had been altered following him producing his urine sample.

But his defence was thrown out and Indatissa told ‘insidethegames’ that they did not accept the decision and would now appeal to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for it to be overturned.

“It’s a total cocky order,” Indatissa told insidethegames.

“If there is a possibility of tampering they should not have taken away the medal.

“The chain of custody is the most important thing and we have managed to show that there was not there.”

Indatissa had previously represented Sri Lanka’s world 200 metres silver medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe when she was controversially cleared of taking nandrolone following a positive test in 1998 after she claimed that she was the victim of a political conspiracy.

“This (decision) is not worth the paper it is written on,” said Indatissa.

“We do not accept it and we will be challenging it at CAS.

“We have demonstrated that some of the numbers had been altered and they could not answer that.

“A chain of custody is a chain of custody and it has to be intact.

“It is up to them to prove the case against us and show reasonable doubt.

“But they have not done that.

“I cleared Susanthinka and I will win this case.”

Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has revealed that an internal investigation had concluded that Wanniarachchi had taken the drug inadvertently, BBC reported on Sunday.

“However, based on the report, we banned him from boxing,” Aluthgamage has told the BBC Tamil Service.


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