Indian athletes removed from CWG for breaching No Needle Policy

The Commonwealth Games Federation has suspended the accreditation of two Indian athletes, Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan for infringement of No Needle Policy.

Rakesh Babu competes in the men's triple jump qualifying at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.   -  AP

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has suspended the accreditation of two Indian athletes, Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan for infringement of No Needle Policy at the Commonwealth Games.

Though the matter was initially disposed of by the Federation Court of the CGF, the latest decision comes after the CGF made a review of the whole matter. A statement issued by the CGF president, Louise Martin, stated, "Three Indian officials, including the team’s chef-de-mission Vikram Sisodia would be issued a letter of strong reprimand stating any further infraction of the no-needle policy will attract the same penalty."

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The statement said that on April 12, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Federation Court heard a complaint made by the CGF Medical Commission against members of the Indian team competing at the XXI Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia. Besides, the Chef-de-Mission, the General Team Manager, Namdev
Shirgaonkar, athletics team manager, Ravinder Choudhary, the two athletes and other individuals (team managers) were found by the Court to be in breach of the No Needle Policy.

Having heard all the parties and considered the evidence at the hearing which took place on April 12, the Court found. “Notwithstanding the explanations given to the Court as to the actions taken to communicate the CGF regulations and policies applicable to the XXI Commonwealth Games to all acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Games Association of India (read Indian Olympic Association) are in breach of the no-needle policy in that they failed to ensure compliance of the policy.

“The testimony of an incognitos cleaners operation manager as to the discovery of a needle in a cup on the bedside table in bedroom 2 of apartment 7 in the Village, assigned to India and occupied by Rakesh Babu – athlete (triple jump) and K.T. Irfan (athlete, race walking) is credible.

“The testimony of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASAD), principal investigator as to the discovery of a syringe in the bag of Rakesh Babu who admitted to be his property is credible. The testimony of athletes, Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan who denied all knowledge of the needle in the cup and the further testimony of Rakesh Babu that he had no knowledge of the syringe found in his bag are both unreliable and evasive.

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“Rakesh Babu and K.T. irfan are in breach of the no-needle policy in that they have failed to ensure compliance with the said policy. The CGF shall issue a strong reprimand to Vikram Singh Sisodia, Namdev Shigaonker and Ravinder Choudhary that they and other persons failed to ensure compliance with the no-needle policy. The CCF shall advise them 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”

The CGF statement further added that the accreditation of Rakesh Babu and Irfan was suspended with effect from 9 a.m. on April 13 and were removed from the Games Village. “We have asked India to ensure both athletes depart Australia on the first flight available.”

Later, the Indian Chef-de-Mission, Mr. Sisodia confirmed action as demanded by the CGF but alleged that there were several irregularities in the action taken and the team would make an appeal with he concurrence of the top brass of the IOA.

Addressing a hurriedly-convened press conference, Mr. Sisodia, flanked by Namdev Shigaonkar Ravinder Choudhary, the athletics team coach, P. Radhakrishnan and the Athletics Federation of India secretary, C. K. Valson, said it was unfortunate that the team was involved in a second breach of the CGF policy. “After the first incident took place on March 29, the team management had convened an urgent meeting of all managers and coaches to discuss the issue and advise them to educate the athletes about the no-needle policy. This was followed up in every meeting we have had since that day.

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“But I think that we have not been treated fairly. For instance, it is not immediately known why weightlifter, Vikas Thakur, who having given a dope test on the morning of April 12 and was on his way to the airport to return home was dragged into the case unnecessarily. Secondly, the syringe found in the bag of Rakesh Babu is one used to taking insulin injection and not the regular one. More glaring is why Irfan was suspended when Babu himself admitted to the Court that the syringe was found from his bag. These are matters of concern and after discussing the above issues, we are planning to lodge an appeal after consulting the IOA president and secretary,” he said.

Rakesh Babu was to compete in the men’s triple jump final on Saturday, while Irfan had already competed in the 20km walk.