The Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games found itself engulfed in a potential doping scandal on Saturday after Australian anti-doping officials recovered a used syringe from a bin outside the room of senior boxers at the Athletes Village in Gold Coast. Acting on a tip-off from the housekeeping staff, officials from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) and local police raided the room shared by four boxers and seized their possessions. They also recovered the syringe, which had been stuffed inside a crushed plastic bottle and put in the bin.
Sources in Gold Coast said the boxers denied the allegations initially, but the team doctor eventually confessed to the use of the syringe. He, however, insisted there had been no wrongdoing.
The organising committee of the Games has now launched an investigation, and carried out dope tests on all 12 members of the boxing team, including eight men and four women. The syringe, too, will be examined for its contents. If found guilty, the boxers could face severe sanctions, and may not be allowed to compete. The test results are expected before the opening ceremony, which will be held on April 4.
Following the tests, sources said the boxers were made to sign an undertaking that they did not possess any more syringes. Restrictions have been put on them, including a ban on leaving the Games Village after 10 pm. Indian officials in Gold Coast were tight-lipped about the incident. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of them confirmed: “Following the raid and seizure of the syringe, all Indian boxers were taken for dope tests on Saturday. The results are expected in a day or two and depending on that, the organisers will decide if any disciplinary action is warranted.”
Ben Nichols, the spokesperson of the Commonwealth Games Federation, acknowledged that such an incident had taken place, but did not disclose the nationality of the athletes. He, however, suggested that even if the dope tests did not return positive, there was a possibility of the athletes being sanctioned for breaching the ‘no-needle policy’ enforced at the Games.
“ASADA investigators collected evidence and took statements from medical and athlete representatives of a Commonwealth Games Association (CGA). The CGF Medical Commission will be progressing discussions with the CGA and medical staff regarding a possible breach of the CGF Needle Policy. If analytical evidence indicates further follow up, the CGF Medical Commission will follow procedures as set out in the Anti-Doping Standard,” Nichols said.
According to the ‘no-needle policy’ for the Gold Coast Games, athletes are not allowed to carry syringes for medical purposes inside the Games Village or in competition areas without prior permission. Even after obtaining permission, the athletes have been advised to attach an ‘Injection Declaration Form’, and the usage of the syringe must be monitored by the Medical Commission of the organising committee.
“Failure to respect this CGF No Needle Policy… may expose the Athlete(s), the entourage of the Athlete(s), the CGA and members of its delegation as well as the Person(s) having administered the injection to disciplinary action, additional Testing and sanctions, as determined by the CGF Medical Commission,” the CGF advisory states.
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