Sports Politics: Weightlifting given grant ultimatum

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BRITISH weightlifting officials have been told to tighten up their drug control programme or lose their pounds 170,000-a-year Sports Council grant.

Yesterday's ultimatum followed the British Amateur Weightlifters Association's decision last November to take no action against Andrew Davies and Andrew Saxton, who were sent home from the Olympics Games after showing up positive for clenbuterol - a substance whose clear status as a banned steroid at the time has been widely disputed - in a Sports Council test.

Council members agreed yesterday not to discipline BAWLA, but ordered more frequent random tests on its lifters. They also said they wanted BAWLA to appoint an administrator with special responsibilities for deterring drug abuse. 'British weightlifting is very much on trial,' David Pickup, the Sports Council's director- general, said. 'It is a case of the last chance saloon. We have a measure of sympathy for BAWLA's uncertainty about the status of clenbuterol and we do not wish to turn our back on the sport. But it has to operate within the rules of fair play, or put at risk its annual grant.'

Wally Holland, the BAWLA secretary, responded: 'I don't think that this is the attitude to get things done. We do play fair. And we are the only federation in the country which bans and has banned for life for drug offences.

'This is all about the status of clenbuterol, and to some degree the Sports Council have to try and wag the big stick. But we took legal advice over Davies and Sexton, and we didn't have sufficient assets to pay the damages if we had banned them.'