The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laxmi’s charges rubbished

Hyderabad: Firmly denying that state officials had forced sportspersons to take to drugs during the Hyderabad National Games last year, Andhra Pradesh government on Monday dismissed allegations made by gold medallist Udaya Laxmi as “ridiculous” and “rubbish”, and said the charges came out of “sheer frustration” of the athlete.

“As the host state, we wanted our state team to perform well and we gave all the infrastructure, training and facilities needed for the athletes. It is rubbish on part of Laxmi to level such charges against the state,” Andhra Pradesh sports minister P. Ramulu said.

In startling accusations on Sunday, Laxmi, who won the gold medals in 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay apart from a bronze in 400m in the Hyderabad Games, had accused the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) officials of encouraging the athletes to take to drugs so that “Andhra Pradesh could come on top”.

SAAP managing director L.V. Subrahmanyam also dismissed the allegation as baseless. “It is ridiculous. You cannot expect us to encourage athletes to take drugs and win medals for the state. It must be sheer frustration that is making her speak in such desperate terms,” Subrahmanyam said.

Subrahmanyam added that Laxmi’s outburst could be a fallout of the fact that she was not selected for the first leg of Asian Grand Prix meet held here in May last year.

“She had approached me and wanted the state to intervene in the selection process. But I told her that the selection mechanism would take its own course and such delicate issues cannot be managed.”

“We were very firm to ensure that the Games were dope- free,” Subrahmanyam said. “We had given the literature on banned substances to the athletes, coaches and circulated booklets on the do’s and don’t’s”.

“We have taken a very conscious decision to put an end to such unfair practices. The announcement of names of those who tested positive for using banned drugs during the national event is a reflection of our seriousness in putting an end to such ugly practices,” he said.

However, Laxmi, who had also hit out at the government for its decision to withhold the cash incentives for dope-tainted athletes, questioned the timing of the announcement of the list of dope-offenders, saying it had come just days before the government was to give away the promised rewards to the medal winning athletes. “If any athlete is found guilty for taking banned substances, the concerned federation punishes by slapping a ban. The same athlete cannot be punished again by withholding the incentives,” she said.

“You need not worry about any doping tests as they are mere official eyewash,” she quoted the officials as saying on Sunday.

The Amateur Athletic Federation of India slapped two-year bans on two athletes for doping offence but Laxmi’s case was pending before it because the procedural formalities had not been completed.

Laxmi said doping was common among Indian athletes and even Sports Authority of India was aware of it. She said the SAI in Patiala was a “major centre” for doping activities and there were several shops around the institute that sold “all kinds of medicines”.

Laxmi said she was surprised that why many of her teammates, who openly took injections with anabolic steroids, were not caught.

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