The final day of the 54th National Inter-State Athletics, a selection trial meet for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, was marred by a possible doping scandal after used syringes were found in one of the toilets at the venue on Sunday.
Two athletes removed them quickly before a Hindustan Times' lensman could take pictures. "It's for recovery purpose and has nothing to do with the competition," one of the athletes told Hindustan Times while leaving the stadium in a hurry.
Though organisers denied any information about the use of drugs during the championship, junior national coach JS Bhatia lashed out. "Even if such injections are meant for recovery, our athletes should avoid such practices," he said, adding, "I am sure that the medal winners at the meet have not resorted to this.
"In the recent past, there were a series of bans on athletes. The authorities are taking precautions now. I believe such practices are being resorted to by athletes who don't have the heart for real competition," he said, adding, "Some Russian drugs are quite popular among Indian sportspersons for quick recovery."
Meanwhile, away from all the drama, Punjab's triple jumper Arpinder Singh and women's 400m runner Poovamma MR of Karnataka booked tickets to Glasgow.
Arpinder jumped 17.17m, well above the qualifying mark of 16.83m. He did 16.49m in his third attempt after skipping the first two, and then the qualifying jump, also a national record, after skipping the fourth and fifth attempts.
"I was quite sure of making it to the India squad for the Games," Arpinder said after comfortably getting past Ranjith Maeshwari's previous mark of 17.07m. Arjuna Award aspirant Maheshwari, with a jump of 16.54m, finished a distant second.
Luka disappoints again
In the women's 400m, Poovamma left PT Usha's protege Tintu Luka way behind. Poovamma clocked a time of 51.73, 0.23 seconds below the qualifying timing, while Luka finished second, managing just 53.22. Poovamma also bettered the previous meet record of 51.74 seconds by Mandeep Kaur.
Earlier, in the morning, Asian Games women's 10,000m gold medallist Preeja Sreedharan clocked 34:34.98 seconds to win gold but failed to qualify for Glasgow.
There was some good news for a few athletes on the last day of the championship. Rani Yadav pocketed the day's first gold, when she clocked 1:46:49.00 seconds to win the women's 20km walk race and Suresh Kumar Patel (30:00.03 seconds) won the men's 10,000m gold. Chandrodaya Narain Singh won the men's hammer throw gold with a throw of 69.38m.