India will appeal against the Commonwealth Games Federation’s decision to oust race walker K T Irfan and triple jumper V Rakesh Babu from the Games for allegedly violating the ‘no needle policy’. The Athletic Federation of India also constituted a three-member inquiry committee to probe the incident. Irfan and Babu’s accreditations were cancelled and they were removed from the Games village on Friday. They were also asked to leave Australia on the first available flight to India after a used syringe was recovered from the room occupied by the two athletes on Wednesday.
“We don’t agree with some decisions, and we will discuss with our higher authorities. We will appeal against these decisions,” General Team Manager, Namdev Shirgaonker said addressing a press conference that was also attended by the Indian chef-de-mission Vikram Sisodia.
Irfan finished 13th in the men’s 20km race walk event while Babu qualified 12th for Friday’s triple jump finals. He was unlikely to compete in the finals due to an injury. The blood and urine samples of the athletes were collected and analysed on Thursday but there was no anti-doping rule violation found.
“There is a lot of confusion, why our athletes were banned, how they confirmed this. Why was Irfan banned when the syringe was found in Babu’s bag,” Indian athletics team manager Ravinder Choudhry said.
“How is the CGF so confident that both athletes were using the same syringe. Babu admitted but what Irfan,” he added.
Meanwhile, back home, AFI President Adille Sumariwala told PTI that the inquiry panel will be headed by former Sports Authority of India (SAI) secretary B K Sinha with one sports doctor and an official or a former athlete.
“I have constituted an inquiry committee to probe and ascertain what had happened in Gold Coast which has led to this situation. B K Sinha has accepted to be the head of the panel though an official communication is yet to be sent from the AFI.
“He will be assisted by a sports doctor and an official or a former athlete who knows what is currently happening in Indian athletics. We will decide on these two members,” Sumariwalla, who had not gone to Gold Coast said from Mumbai.
“We have zero tolerance on this kind of things. This is not doping violation but I see this as something align to that. As far I understand all the Indian athletes clear of doping. Whoever is guilty will have to face the music, we will be strict and hand strong punishment,” he added.
It is learnt that the names of AFI’s Chief Mefical Officer Arun Mendiratta and national chief coach Bahadur Singh, who has not gone to Gold Coast, are being considered for the panel.
Asked if he was happy at the decision of the CGF court, Sumariwalla said, “I don’t want to comment on the decision of the CGF court and the team management and the IOA in Gold Coast will take appropriate action.
“But I want to say that only one needle was recovered. Then if Babu admitted the bag where syringe was found was his, why the other athlete (Irfan) should be punished. Moreover, his (Irfan’s) event was over on April 8.”
He said the two athletes, the team manager, the deputy coach and other officials will have to appear before the inquiry committee when they return from Gold Coast.
“I can’t jump the gun and say this or that must have happened. The inquiry committee will decide how to go about it and will decide the time frame. It is an unfortunate thing that had happened there in Australia.
“We have given strict instructions to all the athletes about do’s and don’t and about this needle policy especially after what had happened with the boxing team.”
The latest embarrassment comes after the Indian contingent escaped unscathed when a needle was found outside a boxer’s room.
At that time the CGF had merely issued a reprimand to India for not disposing the syringe as prescribed, clearing the country of any declaration norm violations.
WITH PTI inputs