The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sunita feels vindicated

New Delhi: Exonerated by the Sushil Salwan inquiry committee, long distance runner Sunita Rani on Tuesday said she felt vindicated and was preparing herself for the battle ahead to prove her innocence beyond doubt.

“I am happy to be absolved of all charges by the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI). It just proved that I am innocent,” the athlete said after the committee, set up by the AAFI gave a clean chit to her on Monday.

Sunita had won gold in 1,500m and bronze in 5,000m at the Busan Asian Games but she was stripped of her medals after nandrolone was traced in both her post-race urine samples.

But the beleaguered athlete admitted her battle to prove her innocence had just begun. “I will fight tooth and nail to get my name cleared. I will fight till the last — just the way Sri Lankan athlete Susanthika Jayasinghe did...”

The star Sri Lankan athlete was banned by the international athletics body (IAAF) after she failed a dope test for nandrolone but she said she had taken ovral, a medicine prescribed for menstrual troubles, and her ban was revoked.

Sunita said she feared a ban could pull the curtains down on her career. “I am apprehensive about the ban as it could spoil my career,” said the Asian Games medallist who won a gold and a bronze in 1500m and 5000m, respectively, but was stripped of her medals after testing positive for banned substance nandrolone.

Alleging that “certain quarters” did not want her to participate in the Athens Olympics since she has a chance of winning a medal, Sunita said the “major discrepancies” in the test results of the Asian Games doping laboratory exposed the motives behind such a move.

“I set up a new Asian Games record in 1500m at Busan. And I have a strong feeling that certain quarters do not want an Indian to do well in the Olympics,” she said.

Sunita said she hoped the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the AAFI would be able to convince the IAAF against taking any action against her.

“Action without sufficient evidence should not be taken against me as I have been absolved by the inquiry committee. I hope for a favourable verdict from the IAAF,” she said.

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