Asian Games double gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji, who failed the dope test, on Wednesday claimed innocence and blamed the vitamin supplements that they consumed on the recommendation of their coach as the source of the anabolic steroids.
"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 the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medals.
"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.
The doping scandal has caused major harm to India's medal hopes in athletics at the 2012 Olympics and Akkunji said, "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."
Indian athletics was rocked by a doping scandal in the last few days when eight athletes tested positive for banned substances, including Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold-winning relay quartet member -- Akkunji. All the eight athletes have tested positive for anabolic steroids.
The Sports Ministry on Wednesday sacked four SAI officials in the wake of the doping scandal. The latest development comes a day after Ukrainian coach, Yuri Ogorodnik, who was training six of these athletes, was given marching orders by sports minister Ajay Maken. The sacked officials include Indian coach R S Sidhu, another Indian coach, Ramesh Nagapuri and two women of Elite Sports Women's hostel.