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Australian Sikh Games Kabaddi Final Cancelled Over Doping Controversy

A kabaddi match during Australian Sikh Games.

In a bid to to take a tough stand on doping, the Australian Sikh Games organizing committee has cancelled the finals between Singh Sabha Sports Club Melbourne and Baba Deep Singh Club Woolgoolga, as some star players refused to take the doping test, SBS Punjabi reported.

“If the integrity of the game can’t be guaranteed then it is best cancelled,” Navjot Kailay, the kabaddi co-ordinator of the Australian National Sikh Sports and Cultural Council (ANSSACC), told SBS Punjabi. “Our focus is to bring integrity and discipline at the Sikh Games. We also aim to make games drug-free,” he added.

Kailay said that while they had no issues with most kabaddi clubs, they have problems with stars who refused to undergo the drug test. “Just after the semi-final matches some players refused to give drug-samples leaving us no choice to take this tough decision. If they want to play in our grounds they need to comply. We don’t care if they are stars or have big fan following. Moreover, this was not something new….The policy we’d was approved by all clubs and ANSSACC abides to follow it irrespective of all the pressure,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gurdial Singh Rai, the president of Baba Deep Singh Club Woolgoolga, told the website that they felt “specifically targeted.” He said: “We feel we’ve been specifically targeted in this competition. We had the best players who had potential to bring the trophy home. We strongly oppose the use of drugs in sports. We acknowledge that our players denied drug-testing, but only after the insult they felt in the in the open ground. We’re talking about star players who have won accolades in international tournaments including the world cup in India.

“If they want to test these international players they’d get it done through some NADA [The Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies] equivalent methodologies.”

The kabaddi final of the Australian Sikh Games turned ugly as spectators, who had waited in the scorching heat for three hours, started throwing bottles and chairs inside the ground.

As the ANSSACC proceeded to cancel the final match, a debate has ignited on social media over the decision.
Facebook user Mandeep Johal wrote: “Why has the system of drug testing changed for the final? This is what was being questioned and not a refusal to drug test. Woolgoolga had always complied with the testing, it’s the way that they tested was the issue.”

In a similar vein, Paul Sangha posted: “My question is why leave it till the end to bring the truth and honesty, why wasn’t it announced in the open match.”

In response, Kailay told SBS Punjabi that the drug testing was implemented from the first day of the tournament.
“We’d taken around 30 random samples and we’re planning to take at least 20 more before this denial happened,” he said. “We had drug testing in place for players of hockey, kabaddi and soccer. It was only the kabaddi players who objected to the testing.We deny any allegations. There is only one agenda and that is to keep these games safe and clean.”

The Australian Sikh Games are a representation of the Sikh community, held around Easter every year, to promote multiculturalism in Australia. The event attracts over one thousand athletes and up to 45,000 spectators over three days, according to their website.