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Sunita officially stripped of medals

New Delhi: Drug-tainted distance runner Sunita Rani has been stripped of the gold and bronze medals she won in the Busan Asian Games, it was officially confirmed on Monday, raising the possibility of an international ban on the athlete.

Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) secretary general Randhir Singh said he received a letter from the OCA task force on Sunday confirming Rani had tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid and that she has been stripped of her medals.

“Both her B samples taken after the 1500m and 5000m races have tested positive for nandrolone,” Randhir, also the Indian Olympic Association secretary-general said.

“As per the rules laid down in the OCA constitution, I would like to inform that the OCA has withdrawn the medals won by Sunita and is referring the case to the concerned Asian and international federations for further necessary action,” he said.

Rani, who won gold in the 1500m setting a new Games record as well as bronze in the 5000m, will now have to return her medals to the OCA so that “the same can be forwarded to the other athletes who have replaced Sunita in the medal standings”.

India’s Madhuri Singh, who finished fourth in the 1500m, will get the bronze while Tatiana Borisova of Kyrgyzstan, who finished second, will get the gold and the silver will go to Japan’s Yoshiko Ichikawa.

Emphasising that he was totally satisfied with the procedures followed, Randhir said, “The OCA has gone by the rule book. The doping facility at Seoul is accredited by the International Olympic Committee and I can say it was not lax at all”.

Asked how it was possible for Rani to have cleared the dope test before leaving for Busan, Randhir said, “We do not have an IOC-accredited dope testing facility in the country”.

Passing the buck to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi — who had on Sunday announced a one-man committee to probe into the case — Randhir said: “The OCA can only strip the medals. Any decision to ban the athlete will have to be taken by the international athletics body. Any further disciplinary action can be taken by the IOA or the Amateur Athletic Federation of India.”

Meanwhile, the Haryana Olympic Association president, Abhey Chautala urged the union sports ministry to take stern action against federations whose athletes fail dope tests in international meets. Speaking at the inauguration of the 18th Haryana State Games, in Hisar on Monday evening, Chautala said that Rani should not be blamed.

“There is not need to make further inquiries from Sunita. The players undergo two tests in the country before the participating in international meets”.

Demanding stern punishment for coaches and officials of federations, whose players fail dope tests Chautala said, “The players themselves never know what kind of medicines had been administered to them.”

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