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Govt axes foreign coach, orders probe

India's foreign coach, Yuryi Ogordnik, has been axed following the doping scandal that has rocked Indian athletics. Eight top athletes are in the net and the sports ministry's decision to sack the coach came a day after Asian Games 400m hurdles champion Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Pawar, another 400m runner, tested positive.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2011 23:53 IST
HT Correspondent

India's foreign coach, Yuryi Ogordnik, has been axed following the doping scandal that has rocked Indian athletics. Eight top athletes are in the net and the sports ministry's decision to sack the coach came a day after Asian Games 400m hurdles champion Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Pawar, another 400m runner, tested positive.

The Union sports minister Ajay Maken said, 'Services of Yuryi have been terminated. Generally the athletes who fail dope tests are penalised but the support staff, including coaches associated with dope offenders, go scot-free. The government will also probe the role of the coaches and support staff."

Even as the minister talked about tackling the menace by taking action against the erring officials, one of the coaches, N Ramesh, who oversaw training of the dope-tainted 400m women's relay team in Patiala, has already boarded the flight to Japan for Asian Athletics Championships.

Chief national coach Bahadur Singh and camp coordinator Sanjay Garnaik are also in Japan. However, RS Sidhu, another coach associated with the tainted team, opted out of the trip.

To look into the doping episode that has ruined country's hopes of a medal in the 4X400m women's relay event at the 2012 London Olympics, the minister has nominated director general (D-G) of the Sports Authority of India to conduct an inquiry.

"Officials involved in supporting anti-doping activities will also be brought to book," the minister said while addressing the media gathering.

The measures being initiated by the ministry to tackle the menace include more frequent tests and the increase in the number of medical staff from one to three at the National Institute of Sports' training centre at Patiala.

Sacked coach Ogordnik takes the blame, defends tainted athletes
After being sacked in a knee-jerk reaction by the sports ministry, foreign athletics expert Yuryi Ogordnik claimed responsibility for giving food supplements that may have contaminated athletes' urine samples with banned substances.

Yuryi admitted, "They (the athletes) are innocent. What all the girls are saying that it's me, who recommended them the food supplements, is absolutely correct. I recommended the supplements and all of them had gone by my advice."

The Ukrainian, though, said that the supplements recommended were not wrong though he has doubts about their quality.

"They had the same supplements during the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and most of the training. All of them had undergone a number of dope tests, but no one had ever failed them. In my opinion the thing that went wrong might be the quality of that particular lot, which the girls had consumed. There might be some piracy in some of the products."

Impressed by the results at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, the ministry had extended his contract till the 2012 London Olympics.

The coach, though, refused to comment on the ministry's decision to sack him.

"I know what is good for athletes and only because of my training schedule, the Indian women won the team gold in both CWG and Asian Games. The girls have not committed any mistake. If there have been lapses, they have been from my side only."

Saurabh Duggal