Tell The Truth, Paul: Atma

  The truth will always prevail in the end and Eileen Cikamatana remains a suspended member of Weightlifting Fiji (WF), says Atma Maharaj. And the WF president said Cikamatana can
09 Nov 2018 10:33
Tell The Truth, Paul: Atma
L-R: Paul Coffa, Eileen Cikamatana and Atma Maharaj


The truth will always prevail in the end and Eileen Cikamatana remains a suspended member of Weightlifting Fiji (WF), says Atma Maharaj.

And the WF president said Cikamatana can still take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or any other International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) sanctioned-event provided she follows the process of reinstatement.

Maharaj also clarified assertions made by Oceania Weightlifting general secretary Paul Coffa which was published on the Fiji SUN on November 2, 2018.

“There are a number of untruths and these cannot go unchallenged,”Maharaj said.


These are as follows;

Dispute between Weightlifting Fiji and the Levuka Weightlifting Club ‘an internal one.’

“It is time that Paul Coffa comes out with the truth. It is anything but internal.

“One only has to look at a similar situation in 2001 -2002 with the creation of a new parallel Weightlifting Association in Fiji; and the attempts that was made in Samoa in 2007 – 2008 to remove the president of Samoan Weightlifting Federation, to get some insights of the types of external influences at play.”

Cikamatana out of the 2020 Olympic Games, 2019 World Juniors in Suva, World Senior Championships, Fiji lost not only a world champion but also a gold medal at the Olympics.

“Eileen will be out of the Olympics and the World Championships, only by her own decisions. We wish to reiterate that she made these decisions to stay out of these events, most likely based on advice from her family and coaches.

“On our part, WF has provided a pathway for the athletes to return to representation status. We maintain that every action has its own consequences, and anyone who breaches WF’s trust and processes cannot just resume their membership, as if it nothing has happened. All sports have their processes, so does WF.

If Eileen decides to follow the process of reinstatement, she could be competing in 2019 Junior World Championships and the 2020 Olympics Games. There is still a window of opportunity. The choice is hers.

The prediction of a gold medal at the Olympics is only an assumption and hope. There is no evidence of substance of a definite gold medal or any medal at all.’

Cikamatana resigned from WF in June and WF accepted her resignation and consequently she is no longer eligible to compete for Fiji at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“The reality of the matter is that Eileen is currently a suspended member of WF after her boycott of all International competitions in 2018. All WF has done is, at her specific written request, removed her from ADAMS (the world-wide database that records the location of athletes, for drug testing purposes).

“Eileen in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games travelled to Fiji without the knowledge of WF on separate occasions, potentially risking her ADAMS conditions. WF only found out of her being in Fiji from other sources.

Coffa as the Institute coach failed to advise WF of her movements which is disrespectful to WF, which sent her to the Oceania Weightlifting Institute (OWI).

As a registered athlete in the International Testing Pool, WF submits her whereabouts through ADAMS, with strict penalties if WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is unable to conduct out-of-competition tests on an athlete at a specified address (as entered in ADAMS).

If she was to be tested and was not at her nominated location as per ADAMS rules, the whole of WF and all its athletes would have possibly faced dire consequences, as there are severe penalties including suspension of WF, as a Member federation of the IWF.

WF accepted Eileen’s specific written request of removing her from ADAMS, as we no longer had control over the athlete and her whereabouts. In the letter where we advised OWF and Eileen, that she was removed from ADAMS, we also advised that she remains a suspended member of WF.

OWF is obliged to respect and follow formal instructions from its Member Federations rather than manipulate the information to its suit own agenda.’

Missed out on the World Junior Championships in July, where she would have won the gold medal and become world champion. She has also missed out on the World Senior Championships starting in Turkmenistan, where she would have competed in the 81kg category. Had she been there she would have won the World Championships by 25kg at least as she is in the process breaking the world junior record and possibly the world senior record.

We all know that in sports what counts is turning up to the starting line.

If you are not at the starting line when the competition begins, any wishful and boastful thinking is totally irrelevant and worth nothing.

The very fact is that Eileen removed herself from competing at the 2018 World Championships.  WF wanted her to attend but she specifically refused to represent Fiji.

Eileen’s best lift ever in an IWF sanctioned competition was 253Kg in Ashgabat in September of 2017.

Based upon Eileen’s only reliable recent performance – gold medal performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – 233kG at 83+ kg, and going by the starting list for the World Championships, Eileen would not have won a medal at the 2018 World Championships in Ashgabat, if she was to repeat her CG2018 performance.

When Coffa states that Eileen would have won the current World Championships by 25kg, he is stating that Eileen would be doing 285Kg – 25Kg ahead of the number one ranked athlete in the 87Kg women’s category and 52Kg ahead of her performance at Commonwealth Games.

We can only go by verifiable results, namely IWF sanctioned competitions, which Eileen has not competed in since the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Neither has she been tested for anti-doping since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

In any case the strict IWF out of competition testing rules apply and by withdrawing from being an international athlete, she has an automatic stand-down period before she can compete internationally and any results being relevant at all.”

Coffa on weightlifting as individual sport, not a team sport and therefore, athletes have the right to train with whom they want and who is best for them. In the case of Eileen she chose to stay with Joe Vueti and train at the Institute with me.

Our letter of May 17, 2018 to all our stakeholders regarding the announcement of the appointment of our new national Head Coach Hossein Tavakoli stated that:

“WF is an autonomous body and accordingly, Tavakoli will train all elite WF lifters in Suva with immediate effect under the WF programme. This will exclude Eileen Cikamatana, for the time being. WF will continue with the current arrangements of Eileen training at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute. WF will review these arrangements in due course as required and, after discussions with Eileen, her current coach and Mr. Tavakoli, a decision will be made on her future training arrangements.

Over the coming months, Tavakoli will also be required by WF to develop a working relationship with the Oceania Weightlifting Federation (OWF), including the Oceania Weightlifting Institute (OWI) and Paul Coffa to maximise the potential of short-term intensive camps at the OWI.”

Eileen was left alone to train with Coffa. She was not going to be affected by the international coach but a working relationship needed to be developed as she was still Fiji’s athlete and thus athletes need to work with the national head coaches at competitions, exactly like all other Fiji teams previously. Most other progressive countries follow similar protocols.

Weightlifting like all other sports is a team sport when it comes to national representation. All athletes in any national team come directly under the control of the Member Federation and the appointed Head Coach.

In summary, there is a lot of misinformation and untruths in Paul Coffa’s interview with Fiji SUN. In time, the truth shall prevail “

Edited by Leone  Cabenatabua


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