Dope tainted Asian Games double gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji on Thursday claimed innocence and blamed the vitamin supplements she had consumed on the advise of foreign coach Yuri Ogrodnik as the source of the anabolic steroid found in her body.
"I am innocent and have never failed a dope test before this. We only took the food supplements recommended by our coach and only after consuming the supplements, we have been tested positive," said Akkunji, who was a member of the 4x400m team that won gold medals at last year's Commonwealth as well as Asian Games.
"It's sad since I made many sacrifices during my career. I have never taken steroids in my entire career. It's not the first time that I have given the dope test. Whenever NADA or WADA had called me, I have given the tests.
"During the Asian Games, three times we have been called for dope tests and we never failed it. This thing has never happened before. It's really sad that all this has happened to us. We are totally innocent," she added.
Ashiwni, who was tested positive for banned anabolic steroid methandienone in an out-of-competition test at NIS Patiala on June 27, was present at the National Dope Testing Laboratory for her B sample test on Thursday.
Apart from Ashwini, Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose are the other members of the 4x400m relay quartet who have tested positive for methandienone, while five other athletes, including three more quartermilers -- Juana Murmu, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar -- have also failed dope tests.
Ashwini sought to put up a brave face and said she will continue with her training schedule.
"It's really sad that with Olympic Games next year, this dope scandal has happened. But we will continue our preparation. We will continue with our practice," the lanky 400m runner added.
Stunned by the enormity of the scandal, the sports ministry has already sacked Ukrainian coach Ogrodnik.
Meanwhile, the Athletics Federation of India on Thursday said that it will sent their report on the dope scandal sought by the sports ministry within two days.
"We will send our detailed report to the ministry tomorrow (Friday) or day after," AFI Director M L Dogra said.