Suspended weightlifter waits

The Samoa Weightlifting Federation continues to wait upon the International Weightlifting Federation (I.W.F.) on their decision in the matter against Iuniarra Sipaia.

President and Head Coach of the Federation, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, said they still haven’t received an official notice or an official decision on Ms. Sipaia.

“There is no official notice at the moment and we are still in contact with the I.W.F. in terms of the matter and they are still investigating the matter,” he said.

“Hopefully they will change their mind as well, but at the moment there is no official notice that says she’s been banned or whatsoever.”

“We consulted a doctor and seek his professional opinion and he is one of the well – known doctors in Samoa so we rely heavily on his opinion and guidance on the substances that are ban and the ones that are allowed.”

“What is most difficult about this case is that this substance was allowed right up to the end of 2016, so recently it was in the beginning of 2017 that this matter comes up.”

“It was in the beginning of 2017 that Iuniarra Sipaia’s name came up and so we weren’t aware and maybe the doctor was not aware as well of this substance being banned.”

Asked if he gets a list of banned substance, Tuaopepe said not directly to him.

“It’s not sent directly to us, so we have to go through our doctor and even if we do get the list, it’s very hard for us to know what these substances are,” he said.

“Only the doctor understands the terms even with this substance that is being banned there is a chemical that is in this substance, hence why it is banned.”

“So we rely heavily on a professional opinion to assist us and that is why S.A.S.N.O.C. is trying so hard to have a specialist to guide our athletes so that what happened to Iuniarra will not happen again.”

Asked again who is to blame about what happened to Ms. Sipaia, he said as a coach he does not want to blame anyone.

“Maybe we were wrong, on the other hand but like I said, we went and seek professional help and we rely on the specialist’s advice,” he said.

“We even asked twice, three times, if this substance was safe and the answer we got it is safe and the specialist also had a list.”

“But I don’t want to put the blame on anyone, what happened is done, it’s in the past, we just have to move forward while we are waiting on the official decision from the I.W.F. and hopefully Iuniarra will come clean.”

“But at the moment we have learned our lesson that in the future we will have to be extra careful on the things that the athletes use as well as the specialist we see we will have to do our research.”

Asked if the injection was before or after the competition, Tuaopepe said it was before the competition.

“It’s an injection,” he said.

“It’s an anti-inflammatory injection because she had a serious injury on her knee so we went and consulted the specialist and he said that this injection will take away the inflammation.”

“We then asked the specialist if this was legal and he said yes it is still legal and I believed him because this was the substance that all our lifters used starting from Ele Opeloge, Mary Opeloge and the lifters before them.”

“It is just recently that it has been added in the list of the banned substances.”

“So that’s what happened but as of now, we are still waiting for an official decision.”

Do you think the I.W.F. should have given a list of all the banned substances to the coaches rather than the specialists? 

“If that is the case, we wouldn’t know what’s in the substance that is used by the doctor,” said Tuopepe.

“The doctor is the best person to explain all of the terms that is used in the list and a lot of things in the list you really have to be a pharmacist in order for you to understand the terms used in the list.”

“At least now there are anti-doping awareness starting now and I have raised it with S.A.S.N.O.C. and all of them that we need more of this awareness because there are supplements that have been added to the banned lists.”

“Take for example coffee, there is a certain amount of cup coffees that a lifter shouldn’t been takin otherwise they will test positive.”

“So many cups of coffees that can test you positive on the day of the competition, I’m not really sure but I think if you take six cup of coffees you can be tested positive because of the caffeine.”

“This is unfair because its way off the performance and enhancing drugs that many are using and this this like coffee and the injection of this substance to the knees.”

He reiterated that Iuniarra is innocent and she hasn’t done anything wrong.

“To me Iuniarra hasn’t done anything wrong, she’s been punished for a crime that she did not commit or something that she did not do,” he said.

“And I’m hoping that for this long wait there will be a positive outcome and answer for the matter.”

“So I don’t know how soon the I.W.F. will give out their decision.

“But as you can see, Iuniarra is still involved with the team she’s helping out, but to me they haven’t given an official notice so she is still involved with the team until an official answer is given to us.”

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?