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2018 Commonwealth Games: KT Irfan, Rakesh Babu sent home for breach of no needle policy

Rakesh Babu, KT Irfan and three Indian team officials had appeared before a CGF hearing on Thursday where it was determined the athletes had breached the no needles policy.

other sports Updated: Apr 13, 2018 20:59 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Gold Coast
2018 Commonwealth Games,KT Irfan,Rakesh Babu
Indian athletes Rakesh Babu and KT Irfan are being sent home from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games after a needle was found in a cup in their bedroom at the Athletes’ Village. Image for representative purposes only. (PTI)

While the shooters, boxers, shuttlers and wrestlers were bringing glory for India, two athletes from the country were expelled from the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Friday for breaching the Commonwealth Games Federation’s no-needle policy.

Race walker KT Irfan and triple jumper Rakes Babu put the country in an embarrassing position when needles were found in their accommodation in the Commonwealth Games Village and both were thrown out with their accreditation suspended. (CWG updates)

India had already been pulled up for breaching the no-needle policy and the second offence meant that the CGF has issued another reprimand to the Indian contingent, pulling up chef de mission Vikram Singh Solanki and other officials for failing to ensure that the participants follow the no-needle policy.

“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 CGF said in a statement.

“The Chef de Mission of India, Vikram Singh Sisodia; general team manager Namdev Shirgaonker; athletics team manager Ravinder Chaudhry; two athletes, Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi; and other individuals (team managers) associated with India were found by the CGF Federation Court to be in breach of the CGF no needle policy for the Games. All five individuals were found to be in breach of the policy,” the CGF president Louise Martin was quoted as saying in a statement.

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The CGF asked the Indian Olympic Association to send them back on the “first available flight”.

According to Sisodia, Indian officials were informed by CGF medical commission on April 9 about the breach of the no-needle policy and asked to appear before it along with three sportspersons – Rakesh Babu, who had qualified for the triple jump finals, Irfan and weightlifter Vikas Thakur.

The two athletes were questioned about a used needle being found in a cup on the bedside table in Room 2 in Apartment 7 by members of the cleaning staff. The room and luggage of all three was searched by Australian Anti-doping Agency personnel and a needle was found in Rakesh Babu’s bag. The anti-doping officials also collected urine and blood samples of Babu and Irfan and the Indian officials claimed the tests have come clean. Vikas, who was on his way home, was let off and allowed to go on a flight later.

During a hearing of the CGF Court, both Irfan and Rakesh Babu denied any knowledge of the needles and denied using it, though they admitted that the bags were theirs. However, the Federation Court found their statements “unreliable and evasive”.

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Besides expelling the two athletes, the Federation Court also asked the CGF to hand a strong reprimand to Sisodia, Namdev Shirgaonker, Ravinder Chaudhry and other persons as they failed to ensure compliance with the no-needle policy.

The Federation Court rejected the explanations given by the Indian contingent officials on their effort to inform the CGF medical commission regarding the presence of the needles and went by the evidence provided by the cleaning staff and an investigator of the Australian Anti-doping Association.

Initially, the Indian officials took objection to some of the conclusions drawn by the CGF and decided to appeal, the IOA later issued a statement in which its secretary general Rajeev Mehta informed that the national federations were given an educational note on CGF’s no needle policy and informed of the consequence in case of a breach of the rules.

“Despite repeated messages on compliance of the CGF’s no needle policy, the athletes here failed to understand this and now are being sent back home,” said Mehta.

IOA said action will be taken against the two athletes under its medical and disciplinary commission rules.

The Athletics Federation of India officials too informed that strict action will be taken against Babu and Irfan.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 07:45 IST