April 13, 2018 / 1:08 AM / 12 days ago

Commonwealth Games: Athletes expelled, India to appeal after needles found

GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Indian team officials will appeal a decision to throw athletes Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi out of the Commonwealth Games after they were found to have breached the Games’ anti-doping ‘no-needles’ policy.

Athletics - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's Triple Jump - Qualifying - Carrara Stadium - Gold Coast, Australia - April 12, 2018. A. V. Rakesh Babu of India. REUTERS/David Gray

Triple jumper Babu and race walker Thodi had their accreditation revoked and were asked to return home as soon as possible after a hearing on Thursday, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin told reporters.

The CGF said a cleaner had alerted them to a needle in a cup in the athletes’ bedroom and a second needle was later discovered in Babu’s bag.

“The testimony of the athletes ... are both unreliable and evasive,” Martin said. “Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are in breach of the ‘no-needles’ policy.

“Babu and Thodi are with immediate effect not permitted to participate in the Games. Their accreditation was suspended and both athletes have been removed from the village.”

Three team officials — chef de mission Vikram Singh Sisodia, team manager Namdev Shirgaonker and athletics team manager Ravinder Chaudhry — were all reprimanded, Martin added.

“The CGF shall advise Vikram Singh Sisodia, Namdev Shirgaonker and Ravinder Chaudhry that any further infractions by any member of the Indian team of the ‘no-needle’ policy could result in the withdrawal of accreditation of the offending person,” she said.

Babu was the 12th and final qualifier for the men’s triple jump final on Saturday. Thodi finished 13th in the men’s 20km race walk last Sunday.

Indian officials told reporters they would be appealing the decision.

“They have taken action against two athletes, which we do not agree with at all ... and we will appeal against the decision,” they said.

“The needle found was reported by the cleaning person. Our athletes totally denied they knew about the needle.

“They (investigators) talked to the cleaning person, they talked to the athlete. They believed the cleaner.

“Basically there is a lot of confusion around the whole episode.”

The officials said Babu had admitted the second needle had been found in his bag but that he had no idea how it got there.

Athletes must have a specific medical exemption to have needles at the Games as part of the fight against doping.

It is the second time the Indian team have been in breach of the policy on the Gold Coast after boxing team doctor Amol Patil was issued a strong written reprimand last week after needles were discovered in a plastic bottle.

Patil had administered a Vitamin B complex injection to a sick boxer and left needles in the room, breaking CGF rules regarding their proper storage.

The matter was not defined as an anti-doping rule violation, but the entire India delegation was warned by the CGF there would be repercussions if they breached the rules again.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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