Bajan lifter under probe

Bajan lifter under probe
From left, Quontana Clarke, Cicely Callender, Zagora Callender and Daniel Griffith before departure to the Puerto Rico weightlifting meet.
Photo by George Alleyne

A stellar performance by Barbados’ junior weightlifting team at the 34th Torneo Criollo International meeting held at the Angelo Berrios Diaz Sports Complex in Caguas Puerto Rico, ended with a cloud over the head of one performer.

As did three other members of five-member team, teenager Zagora Callender put in a personal best performance to haul in a silver medal, but one day after her Oct. 24 performance the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) reported her as charged with an anti-doping violation, and that she has been provisionally suspended pending review.

Seventeen-year-old Zagora Callender had revved up to her personal best showing of 63/81kg in the clean and jerk, and 144kg in the snatch, clean and jerk before being charged with use of an anabolic steroid, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which she claimed was prescribed by her physician.

“According to the World Anti-Doping Code, it’s normally four years [ban] for a specified substance like [DHEA] because it is an anabolic steroid, but it could be reduced if it is no significant fault of the athlete,” the Barbados Saturday Sun newspaper quoted Chairman of the National Anti-Doping Commission, Dr. Adrian Lorde, saying.

But reports indicate that this might not be a clear-cut case because the youngster was not tested positive for the drug, rather it came to the attention of games officials after she submitted it as one of her possessions in a declaration form months ago.

The Barbados Amateur Weightlifting Association (BAWA) stated that for this reason it is sticking with Callender.

“BAWA wishes to reiterate that Ms. Callender has not tested positive for any banned substance. The BAWA stands in firm support of Ms. Callender, strongly refutes any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Callender and is in the process of contesting the suspension and the alleged violation,” the organisation stated in a media release.

Further, a BAWA spokesman told the Saturday Sun that Callender made a (medical) declaration in March.

Without explaining why the young athlete used the banned substance, he said, “the substance is DHEA and it was a DHEA supplement. The supplement is actually on the banned list as an anabolic steroid but it was prescribed in this instance by her doctor, so this was inadvertent use on her part. You don’t declare a substance on a form that you really intend to hide. It has a lot to do with intention and that is what we are looking to argue. It was actually for health reasons.”

“She has not been found to use the substance. She made the declaration … and there were no adverse findings and that is what we really want to stress.”

Daniel Griffith, Cagney Taitt and Cicely Callender are the other athletes to have picked up silver medals. Quontana Clarke did not medal.

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