Two Indian Athletes Expelled for ‘No Needle’ Policy Breach at Commonwealth Games

India said it will appeal against the decision to send back race walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi.


Indian triple jumper Rakesh Babu and race walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi have been asked by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to take the first flight home after a needle was found in their apartment and another one was found in Babu’s bag, BBC Sport reported. India will appeal against Irfan’s exclusion from the game.

The two athletes and three Indian team officials appeared before the CGF hearing on April 12, AFP reported citing CGF president Louise Martin.

“The testimony of the athletes … are both unreliable and evasive,” Martin was quoted by the news agency as saying. “Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are in breach of the ‘no-needles’ policy.”

Saying that the athletes are not permitted to participate “with immediate effect,” Martin added: “Their accreditation was suspended and both athletes have been removed from the village. We have asked the Commonwealth Games Association of India to depart Australia on the first flights available.”

The three team officials – chef de mission Vikram Singh Sisodia, team manager Namdev Shirgaonker and athletics team manager Ravinder Chaudhry – were all reprimanded, she added.

Chaudhry said Irfan’s exclusion was unfair. “There is confusion. Our protest is why they banned Irfan,” Chaudhry was quoted by BBC Sports as saying. “Why have they banned two of our athletes? This is a big question, how they confirmed this syringe belongs to both. It was found in the bag of Babu.”

Though Babu accepted that the bag belonged to him, he denied knowledge of the needle, as did Thodi.

Chaudhry further said: “There are six athletes in the apartment. So why Irfan? Babu admitted ‘it is from my bag,’ fine. If he has done something wrong they penalized him, it’s OK. But we appeal on these grounds – why was Irfan given this punishment?”

Babu was the 12th and final qualifier for the men’s triple jump final scheduled to take place on April 14. Thodi finished 13th in the men’s 20km race walk on April 8.

As per the CWG policy, athletes must have a specific medical exemption to possess needles at the Games.

This is the second time the Indian team has been found in breach of the policy on the Gold Coast. Indian boxing team doctor Amol Patil was reprimanded last week when needles were discovered in a plastic bottle. Patil said he had administered a Vitamin B complex injection to a sick boxer and left needles in the room. The Indian delegation was cleared of the doping charges, and let off with a warning about repercussions if they breached the rules.

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