Twenty-one of the 22 sportspersons who tested positive for banned substances during the Hyderabad National Games last year were pronounced guilty by the anti-doping commission of the Indian Olympic Association on Wednesday.
Making the announcement, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi said they were found guilty of using substances banned by the International Olympic Committee and would be disqualified and their medals taken back.
Of the 21, eight are athletes, seven weightlifters, three boxers. One each belongs to the cycling, rowing and volleyball federations.
The commission deferred its decision on swimmer Amar Muralitharan, who has been asked to undergo further tests.
"We have asked the respective associations to impose a ban on them as per their rules with immediate effect. It could vary from one year to two years for a first offence and a life ban for the second offence," Kalmadi said.
Saying the athletes were unable to provide any satisfactory explanation for using banned substances, Indian Olympic Association Anti Doping Commission chairman Dr Manmohan Singh said only 16 of the 22 athletes who had been summoned for a personal hearing appeared before the commission.
Among the athletes who face a ban are Ramandeep Singh and Sukhjinder Singh of Chandigarh; Kalyani Alapati, Udayalaxmi Peddinedi and Hirdyanand Singh of Andhra Pradesh; Kavita Pandya from Maharashtra; Jagdish Basak from Punjab and Maha Singh of Haryana.
The weightlifters who have been blacklisted are Sima Golui (West Bengal), Anitha Kumar (Jharkhand), Parmanad (Delhi), Tejinder Singh (Punjab),Venkateshwar Rao Pemmasani (Andhra Pradesh) and Gurpreet Singh and Ranjit Singh from Chandigarh.
All the three boxers -- Bhagya Rajan Deverdaran, Srikanth Poosa and Sandeep Kumar Jogu, against whom a ban has been recommended, belong to Andhra Pradesh.
The others against whom the commission has found sufficient evidence are rower Laxman Singh of Chandigarh, Gurvinder Singh (volleyball) of Punjab and Nijappa Yenteth (cycling) of Andhra Pradesh.
Laxman Singh has been banned for life by the Rowing Federation of India.
Asked if any athlete had named a sports official or coach during the personal hearing, Dr Singh said "none".
"We asked Udayalaxmi Peddinedi in particular if she would like to name any one. She did not say anything. In fact, she denied the suggestion that she had taken banned drugs," Dr Singh explained at a press conference.
Dr Manmohan said no decision was taken on Muralitharan, who was found to have a high rate of testosterone. A medical board will be formed and he will be tested over a period of three months after which the commission will a take a decision on the swimmer.
Kalmadi said the IOA will come down heavily on sportspersons using the drugs to enhance their performance.
"We will be asking the respective federations and sports associations to impose the ban with immediate effect so that this menace is checked once for all. We have also asked sports bodies to keep an eye on the coaches so that the athletes are not mislead or forced to take drugs. If they are found guilty we will come down heavily on them as well," Kalmadi said.
He denied that the SAI laboratory is ill-equipped to test urine samples for drug abuse.
"Our lab is modern enough to give us correct results. We are still in the process of updating it and soon it will get a certificate of ISO rating," he claimed.
When contacted by rediff.com, Udayalaxmi, who had been very vocal in the past week and had been giving interviews to the media, threatening to spill the beans, refused to say anything on the matter.
"I am not saying anything for the present," she said. She was one of the 16 athletes who had deposed before the anti-doping commission.
A J Pandya, father of Ms Kavita Pandya, said his daughter has been victimised by vested interests.
"We had given our submission in writing and showed even medical documentary evidence in support of our case but the anti-doping commission did not listen to our plea. My daughter has never ever taken drugs to enhance her performance. She has been a gold medallist throughout and today they suddenly tell us that she has been using drugs to boost her performance," he claimed.
He said he will represent my daughter's case before the IOA.
"If I do not get justice then I will move the courts as well," he added.