Weightlifter K Ravi Kumar posted video grabs on social media, of a shoulder surgery he underwent, to counter doping allegation after a no-show at London, finds Shivani Naik
It wasn’t the most flattering of angles for a selfie. But Katulu Ravi Kumar wasn’t exactly gunning to become the next Twitter sensation back in early 2013. Propped on a hospital bed, seconds away from being sedated, surrounded by surgical instruments and with a limp shoulder to be operated on — weightlifter Ravi Kumar was desperate to capture every moment of his limb’s joint being opened up and the tendons and muscles delicately stitched back into the bone to repair the tear to the rotator cuff.
With help from friends later — when the anesthesia knocked him out — he managed to shoot an entire 60 minute video of the shoulder surgery.
A few dozen snapshots of the tiny and very many incisions on the shoulder blade, then made it to his Facebook page. These were meant to be seen by all those who had left him vicious posts in the aftermath of the London Olympics after which the murmurs began.
He doesn’t call them trolls. He even chuckles while calling them friends. “Facebook pe sabhi friends hi hote hai!” he says wryly. The muscle-man from Berhampur, Odisha, who won a gold medal in the Men’s 69 kg weightlifting with a record total of 321 kg at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, had found dissing words a weight too massive to handle for what were one of India’s strongest shoulders.
Heading into the London Games, Ravi Kumar had been the first Indian male lifter to qualify for the Olympics in 12 years. Doping embarrassments had been rampant in these dozen seasons, and the country’s lifters themselves were returning to the big Games after the ignominy of a two-year ban imposed by the International Weightlifting Federation after the 2006 Commonwealth Games doping scandal.
Ravi had landed in the Games Village a fortnight before the start, and was on two pain-killers for a thigh muscle tear and the suffering shoulder. Then, he suffered a bout of fever. “I was in pain, and my performance was not up to scratch. When a lifter flops on the biggest stage, the immediate suspicion is he’s trained on steroids. Officials, seniors and other lifters were quick to criticise and say Ravi is on dope,” he says. Preponderance of the drug scourge in that discipline didn’t help matters.
“But I wanted to prove I’m innocent,” he insists. The lifter’s desperation to defend himself from all manners of unqualified slander, when he hadn’t even flunked a test, made him respond on the biggest vehicle for venting with the maximum reach — social network. “I immediately uploaded pictures of my surgery on Facebook hoping to convince people that my injury continued…