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Sunita Rani gets Asiad medals back
February 04, 2003 20:11 IST
Ace distance runner Sunita Rani's honour was finally restored on Tuesday, when she was handed back the two medals she was stripped off at the Busan Asian Games after 'testing positive' for the banned substance nandrolone.
Olympic Council of Asia secretary-general Randhir Singh returned the medals -- a gold from the 1500 metres and a and bronze from the 5000 -- amidst thunderous applause from Rani's family, fellow-Asian Games medallists, Sports Minister Vikram Verma and officials of the Indian Olympic Association and Amateur Athletic Federation of
India at a grand ceremony in Delhi.
A delighted Rani, after customarily thanking all concerned, lashed out at fellow-athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, who had called for stern punishment after the results of the urine samples were declared 'positive'.
"Jyotirmoyee never realised the injustice that was being meted out to an innocent fellow athlete. She forgot that it was I who, in 1998, helped her win a medal," Rani said, hastening to add that she has no malice towards anyone.
Asserting that she will start afresh "after the new lease of life being given to her by the IOA and AAFI", she said she will continue to work towards bringing laurels to the country.
Recounting the trauma that she underwent after being stripped of her medals, Rani, reading from a prepared statement, said: "Every morning was a harbinger of death. My life ceased to have any meaning or purpose.
"Since sports is my life, I thought I could not live long with this ignominy. But I have been given a new lease of life now."
IOA and AAFI president Suresh Kalmadi said he is looking forward to Rani "taking part in the Afro-Asian Games later this year and winning an Olympic medal for the country".
"We know what you went through... all the humiliation. But you stood through the ordeal with dignity and have come out of it with the help of the good wishes of the whole country," Kalmadi said.
He said the country would demand action against the Seoul doping laboratory which declared Rani's samples 'positive'.
"Action must be taken against the lab so that such an instance is never repeated. Besides shame to Sunita, it brought shame on the whole country.
"We were able to convince the authorities concerned about her innocence but what about the smaller countries?" he asked.
Kalmadi, however, made it clear that though Rani's episode turned out to be a happy-ending story, drug cheats will not be tolerated.
"We will have a lot of check-ups and will educate the athletes extensively on banned drugs," he added.
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