Busan, Oct. 14: There may have been a faint ray of hope for Sunita Rani on Sunday. But after testing positive in the 5,000 metres also, all escape routes for the Indian distance runner have snapped shut.
The medical commission of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) called the Indian delegation this afternoon and informed it that nandrolone had been found in the athlete’s urine samples taken after both the 1,500m and 5,000m finals. Sunita won gold in 1,500m on Thursday and bronze in 5,000m on Saturday.
While the permissible limit is 5-6 nanograms, about 20 nanograms were traced in Sunita’s urine sample from the first day. It dropped by 50 per cent in the next test, but was still much beyond the acceptable level.
The B (second round of) test for both samples will be done, but it should only be a formality. While Indian chef-de-mission Jagdish Tytler said the B tests would be conducted in Seoul on Wednesday, OCA medical commission chief Yoshio Kurade is learnt to have decided to complete the process tomorrow itself.
Till the B tests are confirmed positive, the OCA executive committee cannot take any action against the athlete. Apart from losing both her medals, Sunita is likely to be slapped a ban as well.
Asked how all this had happened, the 23-year-old from Sangrur insisted that she had not taken any banned substance knowingly. “I have no clue... Maybe it could have come from some contaminated water I was given after the race,” she muttered after attending the OCA hearing.
Somebody mentioned that she had been noticed eating “something” after the 1,500m final. “Why didn’t you ask me this question that day' I could have had some problem,” the Punjab Police DSP snapped.
Jawahar Jain, the team doctor of the Indian athletics squad, tried to defend her saying that nandrolone sometimes can be produced endogenously in the human body.
Tytler spoke out at that juncture. “We want sport to be dope-free... Anyone who has breached the rules cannot be defended,” he said, indicting Sunita for the first time since the scandal broke.
At the end of a fortnight’s competition, India occupied the seventh position (among 44 participating nations) with 11 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze medals. But once Sunita is stripped of her medals, India will lose its place to Chinese Taipei, which finished with 10 gold, 17 silver and 25 bronze medals.
In the Manchester Commonwealth Games, India lost the third place to Canada after weightlifters Madaswamy and Sathish Rai tested positive. Sunita’s case is the first positive dope test of these Games. A Lebanese bodybuilder had to surrender his bronze for refusing to give his urine sample.
Sunita has set another dubious ‘record’. She is the first Indian to be caught cheating at the Asian Games. (See Sport)