Monday, October 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sunita tests positive for doping

Busan, October 13
There was a funeral like scene in the Indian camp as the Busan Asian Games Organising Committee (BAGOC) announced that middle distance runner Sunita Rani had tested positive for the banned substance Nandrolene.

“I am here to confirm that Indian athlete has tested positive,’’ BAGOC chief Soon Taek Chuhng told a crowded press conference here this afternoon.

The announcement had a devastating effect on the Indians who were on a high since the athletic events started here.

The Amateur Athletics Federation of India Secretary General Lalit Bhanot had earlier said that there was no truth in the reports.

“They are all mere rumours,’’ he had said but there was sense of uneasiness in Indian camp and among the officials. Thus, India’s best-ever showing in athletics at an Asian Games lay in tatters after Bagoc announcement.

India’s twin medal winning distance runner, 22-year-old Sunita Rani had staged a comeback after a two-year injury lay-off, to win the 1,500m gold and a bronze in the 5,000m.

Her timings of 4:06:03 and 15:18:77 for the 1,500m and 5,000m, respectively, were interestingly new personal bests and also the Indian National records also.

The substance Sunita tested positive for is believed to be Nandrolene. For India, the positive test comes as a huge embarrassment for the second major Games in succession.

The huge haul at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester had also been accompanied by two positive tests in weightlifting.

If Sunita’s positive test is confirmed, as it now seems likely, the BAGOC will officially take away the two medals. But that will happen only after the Sample B, since the Indian chef-de-mission has already made clear his intention to ask for a second test.

According to procedures, the second test has to be held within two weeks of the first test, which was on October 11. That means the Sample B has to be tested before October 25. But the procedure also demands that as soon as an athlete tests positive, he or she is to be served with a notice that says the concerned athlete is suspended till further notice.

A copy is also sent to the national federation of the athlete. In this case, neither Sunita Rani nor the AAFI, has been served a notice as yet. That, however, could only be a matter of time.

A meeting of the Doping Commission, and members of the Working Committee, called the Task Force will be meeting again later in the evening. “The future course of action will be taken after that,’’ said Lee Choon-Sup, deputy secretary-general for games and Operations in Busan.

The head of the medical commission, Yoshio Kuroda, has also said that he will not comment on either the athlete or his/her nationality. If the test is finally confirmed as positive, not only will both medals be taken away, but Sunita will also be banned for two years. The news started out as a rumour in the morning and gained credence when a Japanese news agency was reported to have broken the unconfirmed news. UNI


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