Sports

Indian Athletes face ‘Syringegate’ : Commonwealth Games 2018

Commonwealth Games 2018: Indians feel the sting as 'Syringegate' turns ugly

HIGHLIGHTS:

All boxers were asked to give their urine samples for testing.

Indian athletes have been cornered by the ASADA to give their samples on their arrival at the Athletes’ Village.

There are rumours that some ASADA officials have mingled with the village house-keeping staff to keep an eye on the athletes.

GOLD COAST/NEW DELHI: Indian athletes have been hit hard by the syringe controversy in Gold Coast (Australia) with the Commonwealth Games organisers targeting all arriving batches of Indians for dope testing.

Following the recovery of a used syringe outside the room of a seasoned boxer at the Athletes’ Village on Friday, all boxers were asked to give their urine samples for testing. On Monday, it was the turn of the gymnastics contingent, while the weightlifters were tested late on Sunday
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In what is being seen as a fall-out of the breach of the No-Needle Policy of CWG, the Indian athletes have been cornered by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) to give their samples on their arrival at the Athletes’ Village – even before checking into their respective rooms. The message from the organisers to Australia’s anti-doping officials for Indian athletes is clear – spot them, test them. India has sent a 225-member athletes’ contingent to Gold Coast.

While it’s normal for the host country’s anti-doping watchdog to collect samples of all participating athletes to ensure that the Games remain clean, the manner in which the organisers and ASADA officials are going about their business is something unprecedented and unheard of.

Indian athletes are facing a tough time evading the suspicion-filled eyes of the anti-doping officials, an Indian coach said. “Athletes wanted to rest in their rooms after a long flight, but here they were asked to give their samples even before settling down properly. It’s not only harsh on these athletes, but embarrassing as well. Just because of the fault of some athlete (read boxer), the entire contingent is being looked upon with suspicion,” the coach told.

Sources even said that there are rumours that some ASADA officials have mingled with the village house-keeping staff to keep an eye on the athletes.

It seems that after the syringe was found stuffed in a crushed plastic bottle in the bin outside the boxer’s room, the organisers want to leave nothing to chance to keep the Games dope-free. They have already informed that a decision on the said boxer’s further participation would be taken before the opening ceremony on April 4. While the boxer has denied any such alleged involvement, team officials have reportedly admitted to the use of syringe but for a ‘medical purpose’.

India’s boxing high performance director Santiago Nieva informed that the syringe was used to administer “vitamin substance” to an ill boxer. However, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive David Grevemberg has said it is a “clear breach” of the No-Needle Policy inside the village.

It’s pertinent to mention here that ASADA had entered into an agreement with India’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) last year to share whereabouts of athletes as part of their pre-CWG dope operation.

The ASADA team had reportedly collected the urine samples of Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers participating at the Asian Championships in New Delhi in May last year and had even visited Patiala’s National Institute of Sport (NIS) to collect samples of CWG probables.

WHAT IS NO-NEEDLE POLICY

Needles must not be used except by medically qualified practitioners for treatment of injury, illness or other medical conditions (for which a valid TUE may be required) those requiring auto-injection therapy for an established medical condition with a valid TUE, e.g. for insulin dependent diabetes.

• Every Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) must ensure that needles are stored in a central secured location, access to which is restricted to authorized medical personnel of the CGA delegation.

• Athletes with a valid TUE for use of insulin, and non-athletes requiring other forms of auto-injection may keep appropriate materials with them if safely stored and disposed of in accordance with the following:

• All used needles and associated materials (vials, syringes, and swabs) are disposed of in an appropriate bio-hazards container.

• Whenever an athlete receives an injection during the Games, the attached “Injection Declaration Form” (IDF) is duly completed and forwarded to the CGF Medical Commission no later than noon the day following such injection.

• No IDF is required if the injection has been administered by a medically qualified practitioner from the CWG organising committee and the injection has been recorded. Acupuncture or the use of dry needling techniques is exempt from IDFs.

• Failure to respect the policy or IDFs could lead to disciplinary action, sanctions and testing for the CGA and the athlete.

• There is no medical justification for any athlete (except those with valid TUE), a coach or any other non-medically qualified person to administer an injection.

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