The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SAI wants Central probe into Sunita case

New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has urged the Union government to conduct an inquiry into how disgraced athlete Sunita Rani passed the dope test before being cleared for the Busan Asian Games.

The inquiry, if any, ironically would have to be against the SAI itself, which was responsible for conducting the dope tests on Busan-bound athletes.

In a report submitted to the Union sports ministry on Tuesday, SAI Director General Sekhar Dutt has recommended an independent and autonomous dope testing laboratory be set up to prevent such national embarrassment in the future.

However, Dutt refused to comment on his report, and said: “These are matters for investigation.”

The SAI report raises doubts over the manner in which Rani’s urine samples were sent for testing at the Authority’s dope testing laboratory — at Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium— at the last minute, said sports ministry officials. The athlete was stripped of gold and bronze medals in Busan after she tested positive for nandrolone, a banned drug.

All the athletes were tested for drugs before they were handed over flight tickets for Busan. And like all other athletes, Rani too tested negative here.

One of the reasons for the suggestion to look at the system of dope tests afresh stems from the mysterious way in which Rani tested negative in Delhi but positive in Busan, after just a few days, a senior ministry officer said.

Sports medicine experts describe nandrolone as a “training drug” which athletes take over a period of time, say for a month, to enhance their performance. They then give it up for some time before starting again. Sports ministry sources contend that if Rani was indeed taking the drug, it should have shown in the test conducted in Delhi.

The recommendation for autonomous laboratories has been mooted to rule out foul play, if any, on the part of SAI officials. The report also looks into the reasons for doping, which is said to be catching up with many Indian athletes of late, given the pressure to perform better at international meets.

However, nandrolone can be traced in urine even if a person eats pork or consumes alcohol or if a woman athlete takes a contraceptive pill, say SAI officials specialising in sports medicine.

Though a SAI sports medicine specialist accepted that Rani took “something”, he refused to reveal the details saying it is very difficult to medically pin down the contents. Experts feel that in many cases the runners are not aware of the consequences of medicines they are taking.

Meanwhile, Rani appeared before the Amateur Athletic Federation of India’s Sushil Salwan Committee on Wednesday. After more than two hours of close-door meeting, Rani said: “I’m totally innocent. I have done nothing wrong”. She also said she was determined to take the case to its logical end.

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