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Rediff.com  » Sports » Govt sacks athletics coach, orders probe into dope scam

Govt sacks athletics coach, orders probe into dope scam

July 05, 2011 13:45 IST

Minister for sports and youth affairs, Ajay Maken announced the sacking of India's Ukrainian athletics coach Yuri Ogrodnik on Tuesday.

The government also announced that a high court judge will be appointed to probe the doping scam in which eight leading women athletes have been found guilty of use of banned drugs to enhance performance. The minister has asked Sports Authority of India (SAI) to probe how banned substances entered NIS Patiala where the drugs were given to the athletes.

This is not the first time that Indian athletes have been found guilty of using steroids. Weight lifters have on many occasions in the past tested positive for use of banned drugs.

"We have decide to relieve the foreign coach (Ogrodnik of Ukraine) attached with these athletes with immediate effect. I will personally see to it and ensure that officials who are responsible for it (scandal) should be penalised," he said.

Ogrodnik coached six of the eight athletes who tested positive, all of them women's 400-meter runners.

Indian athletics was rocked by a doping scandal in the last few days when CWG and Asian Games gold-winning relay quartet members Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose as well another qaurtermiler Jauna Murmu tested positive for a banned substance -- methandienone -- in out-of-competition tests.

Apart from the trio, another quartermiler Tiana Mary Thomas tested positive for anabolic steroid epimethandiol while long jumper Hari Krishnan Muralidharan and shot putter Sonia were the other two athletes who have tested positive in the last few days.

The scandal grew in proportion on Monday with two more athletes, including the country's new golden girl Ashwini Akkunji and another quartermiler Priyanka Panwar testing positive for the same anabolic steroid -- methandienone, hours before their departure for Japan for the Asian Championships.

Maken says he advised the national athletics federation to remove any other foreign coaches suspected of encouraging the use of performance-enhancing substances.

He wondered how the coaches could put the entire blame on the athletes and get away with their own complicity in providing them with the drugs.

Apart from sacking the foreign coach, the ministry also sought a report on the issue from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

"I have instructed the Athletics Federation to submit a report on an immediate basis. Stricter monitoring to avoid a repeat of recent allegations can also be expected with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) expected to carry out dope tests more frequently.

"We have also asked SAI to explain how banned substances managed to find their way into NIS, Patiala. We may also take against any SAI official if found guilty," Maken said.

"I have also asked the Secretary Sports to seek a report from AFI on the measures they are going to take to stop such incidents in future."

The ministry has also suggested immediate provisions for rotation of doping officers in the national camps and increasing the strength of doctors at NIS, Patiala.

Later, in a conversation with Rediff.com, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Vijay Kumar Malhotra came down heavily on NADA for its failure to detect the positive dope cases of Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu.

Both athletes were caught when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) conducted out-of-competition tests during the national camp in Patiala in May.

"In the past, sting operations have revealed presence of syringes and other clear evidences of doping in bathrooms of the SAI centres in Patiala and other places. However, SAI has done nothing to stop the menace," Malhotra said.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi