India set to appeal as athletes fall foul of ‘no needles’ policy
INDIAN team officials will appeal a decision to throw athletes Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi out of the Commonwealth Games after they were found to have breached an anti- doping ‘no-needles’ policy.
Triple jumper Babu and race walker Thodi had their accreditation revoked and were asked to return home as soon as possible after a hearing on Thursday, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin told reporters.
The CGF said a cleaner had alerted them to a needle in a cup in the athletes’ bedroom and a second needle was later discovered in Babu’s bag.
“The testimony of the athletes ... are both unreliable and evasive,” Martin said. “They are in breach of the ‘no-nee- dles’ policy.
“Babu and Thodi are with immediate effect not permitted to participate in the Games. Their accreditation was suspended and both athletes have been removed from the village.”
Three team officials – chef de mission Vikram Singh Sisodia, team manager Namdev Shirgaonker and athletics team manager Ravinder Chaudhry – were all reprimanded, Martin added.
“The CGF shall advise (the officials) that any further infractions by any member of the Indian team of the ‘no-needle’ policy could result in the withdrawal of accreditation of the offending person,” she said.
Babu was the 12th and final qualifier for the men’s triple jump final today. Thodi finished 13th in the men’s 20km race walk last Sunday.
Indian officials told reporters they would be appealing the decision.
“They have taken action against two athletes, which we do not agree with at all,” they said. “The needle found was reported by the cleaning person. Our athletes totally denied they knew about the needle.
“They (investigators) talked to the cleaning person, they talked to the athlete. They believed the cleaner.
“Basically there is a lot of confusion around the whole episode.”
The officials said Babu had admitted the second needle had been found in his bag but that he had no idea how it got there.
Athletes must have a specific medical exemption to have needles at the Games. – Reuters
GOLD RUSH: Martin Erasmus, left, pins his opponent on the mat.