CWG: Athletes Rakesh, Irfan sent home for suspected doping

Gold Coast (Australia), April 13 (IANS) Indian athletes Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan have been sent home from the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG) here for breaching the ‘no-needles’ policy of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

The CGF acted on a complaint made by its medical commission. The incident involving Babu and Irfan took place on April 9. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was informed about it on April 10. The hearing took place on Thursday.

According to the CGF, a needle has been found in the living quarters of the two athletes in the games village. The needle was reportedly found by a cleaner in a cup on the bedside table in a bedroom occupied by Irfan and Babu.

The duo have thus been sent home with immediate effect for suspected doping.

“The testimony of an incognitus cleaners operations manager as to the discovery of a needle in a cup on the bedside table in bedroom 2 of Apartment 7 in the Games Village occupied by Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi is credible.

“The testimony of the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) Principal Investigator as to the discovery of a syringe in the bag of Rakesh Babu found in Bedroom 2 which said bag Rakesh Babu admitted to be his property is credible,” the CGF said in a statement on Friday.

“Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are in breach of the No Needle Policy in that they failed to ensure compliance with the No Needle Policy and, in particular, failed to ensure compliance with paragraphs I, II, III and IV of the No Needle Policy.

“Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are with immediate effect not permitted to participate in the Games,” the statement added.

“The accreditation of Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi was suspended with effect from 09:00 hours on April 13, 2018. Both athletes were removed from the Games Village. We have asked the Commonwealth Games Association of India to ensure both athletes depart Australia on the first flight available.”

Babu had reached the final of the men’s triple jump. He had finished fifth in Group A on Thursday with a best attempt of 15.98 metres to advance as one of the 12 best performers.

Irfan had finished 13th in a field of 15 athletes in the men’s 20 kilometre race walk.

Asserting that the two athletes could not offer a satisfactory explanation, the CGF also reprimanded the Indian officials for their negligence.

“The testimony of athletes Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi who denied all knowledge of the needle in the cup in Bedroom 2 and the further testimony of Rakesh Babu that he had no knowledge of the syringe found in his bag in Bedroom 2 are both unreliable and evasive,” the CGF statement read.

“Notwithstanding the explanations given to the Court as to the actions taken to communicate the CGF regulations and policies to team managers, Chef de Mission Vikram Singh Sisodia, General Team Manager Namdev Shirgaonker and athletics team manager Ravinder Chaudhry, they failed to ensure compliance with the No Needle Policy.

“In the circumstances: The CGF shall issue a strong reprimand to Sisodia, Shirgaonker and Chaudhry that they and other persons failed to ensure compliance with the No Needle Policy. The CGF shall advise Sisodia, Shirgaonker and Chaudhry 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,” it added.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said Irfan should be spared since the needle was found among Babu’s belongings.

“A lot of confusion in the whole episode. Our question is why did they ban Irfan if the syringe was found in the bag of another athlete. There were 6 athletes in the apartment. Take action against Babu since it was found against him, but why Irfan. There’s confusion,” the IOA said in a statement.

IOA General Secretary Rajeev Mehta said the body is mulling over a stronger anti-doping system in order to prevent such situations in future.

“With great regret I would like to confirm that accreditations of Triple Jumper Rakesh Babu and Race Walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi have been suspended by CGF following a violation of the No Needle Policy. Despite repeated messages on compliance of the CGF No Needle Policy, the athletes here failed to understand this and now are being sent back home,” Mehta said.

Mehta reiterated that all National Sports Federations (NSF) were handed out an educational note on the CGF’s ‘No Needle Policy’ a month before the CWG.

“The athletes would be liable to sanction as decided by the Medical and Ethics Commissions of the IOA,” Mehta said.

“To avoid such instances in future, the IOA is considering putting in place a robust system including having a medical team with two dedicated staffs for anti-doping enforcement for every Games and give a more detailed education to every NSF covering all elements of the Games rules,” he added.

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