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October 14, 2002 | 1530 IST

Sunita Rani fails another dope test

Sunita Rani, who tested positive after winning the women's 1,500 metres at the Asian Games in Busan, failed another dope test, which was conducted after her bronze medal-winning performance in the 5,000 metres.

Chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent Jagdish Tytler said the medical commission of the Olympic Council of Asia had informed him that the banned substance 'Nandrolone' was once again detected in the athlete's urine sample though the level was 50 per cent lower than what was detected in the first instance.

The 22-year-old Sunita Rani, who vehemently denies having ever taken any banned substance, has appealed for the test of her B-sample which will be done on October 16, Tytler said.

The athlete will be stripped of her medals and banned if her B-sample also returns a positive result.

"I have not taken any drug. I am proud to be an Indian and I will not do any wrong," Sunita Rani, who won the 1,500 metres with a new Games record, said.

Not ruling out the possibility of contamination of the sample, she said, "While going from the waiting room to the dope test lab, maybe, someone mixed something. I do not remember. But I had taken water before going for the dope test.

"Sometimes we drink water from outside and also share our water bottles."

Rani is the third Indian to fail a drug test at a major international meet in the last three months. Weightlifters K Madasamy and Satheesa Rai had also tested positive during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July- August.

The issue has once again put the country in an embarassing situation but Tytler was quick to stress that India stood for drug-free sport.

"We would like to record our opposition to use of drugs by athletes. It is against the spirit of the Games," he said.

While deposing before the medical commission, Rani stressed that she had not taken any banned drug or chemical or medicine and pointed out that the pre-competition tests done in Delhi prior to her departure for Busan had been negative, Tytler said.

The Sports Authority of India doctor with the Indian contingent, Dr Jawaharlal Jain, also defended the athlete and said there was a possibility of the samples getting contaminated.

Jain was allegedly seen giving a tablet to Sunita Rani while she was talking to reporters after the 1500 metres race on Thursday, leading to speculations that the athlete was being administered a masking agent.

Rani today strongly refuted the allegations and accused the media of trying to run down their fellow national.

"You do not want to see an Indian win medals. You have been writing all sorts of things. Yes, the doctor had given me something. But you do not know about women's problems. I will never do any wrong," she said.

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