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Two Malayali athletes ousted from Common Wealth Games

V Rakesh Babu(L) and KT Irfan(R)

Gold Coast: Two Malayali athletes were on Friday ordered out of the Commonwealth Games for breaching the ‘no needle policy’. They will also face sanctions from their national body following a time-bound inquiry.

Race walker KT Irfan and triple jumper V Rakesh Babu were ordered to return home from the ongoing event after they failed to explain the presence of needles in their bedroom at the Games Village.

Their testimonies, swearing innocence were declared “evasive and unreliable” by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) court.

“They will definitely be punished by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) as well. It is an embarrassment for us. There will be an inquiry after the Games is over and it will be time-bound. The panel will be appointed after the Games,” AFI Secretary CK Valson said after the CGF court stripped them of their accreditation and asked them to leave for India.

While Irfan was already through with his 20km race walk event, finishing 13th, the 28-year-old Rakesh Babu was to participate in Friday’s triple jump final after qualifying 12th for the competition but he had injured himself during the qualifiers on Thursday and was unlikely to compete.

“Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are with immediate effect not permitted to participate in the Games. The accreditation of Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi was suspended with effect from 09:00 hours on April 13, 2018. Both athletes were removed from the Games Village,” the Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin said.

Valson said the athletes have pleaded innocence and claimed that it was a case of not giving their bags a thorough check before they packed for the Games in Patiala.

“The athletes’ version is that the needle remained in their luggage by chance after they changed bags to pack for the Games. Once they found the needles in their bags, they kept them in a cup in their room as it was not permitted to throw them away,” he added.

“We will try to find out if there is any truth in these claims during the inquiry.”

A breach of no needle policy aside, the Indians were cleared of any doping violations after tests.

“There is nothing there. Their tests were clear. Both of them were anyway not competing but obviously it is a violation given that all Indian athletes had been educated about the dos and don’ts. They have left the village and would be leaving for India soon,” Valson said.

Athletes are barred from using syringes unless there is prior declaration made to the medical commission or a declaration is made within 24 hours of usage. The duo was found guilty of not conforming to the declaration norms set by the CGF.

PTI

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