Six boys and three girls have tested positive for banned substances at the sub-junior and junior national weightlifting championship and have been provisionally suspended, the Indian Express reported on Saturday.

National Anti-Doping Agency had collected samples of 30 lifters competing at the junior nationals at Nagpur in December last year and the paper said the number of players failing the dope test was just one short of total number of weightlifters testing positive in 2017.

Since the anti-doping bodies began maintaining database of dope cheats in 205, India leads the list of positive tests in weightlifting with a total of 117 according to a December 2018 report, the paper said.

All the nine lifters had won medals at the nationals and the Khelo India Youth Games in Pune and are part of the national camp.

But what is more alarming is that the analysis of the samples show that those caught in the dope net have tested positive for banned substances ranging from a performance enhancing drugs developed by East Germans to using a substance whose production was halted after tests showed it caused cancers in multitude of organs. Only three of them tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid commonly used by weightlifters.

NADA Director General Navin Agarwal told the paper that they have started targeting the junior events in order to catch the culprits early.

“Earlier we focused more on senior national and international athletes but in our effort to eradicate the menace, we have started to test junior athletes a lot more. We are trying to nip the evil in the bud,” Agarwal said.