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Widespread doping in India: Nehwal

NEW DELHI: India’s badminton ace Saina Nehwal said Thursday that doping in the country was widespread, adding that news of eight athletes testing positive for banned substances was no surprise to her.

“I know many athletes and weightlifters who themselves tell me that ‘we take it’,” the world number six was quoted as saying in the local media.

“It’s sad that so many of the CWG (Commonwealth Games) and Asian Games medal winners tested positive, but I’m not totally surprised.”

Eight Indian athletes, including gold-medal runners Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose and Ashwini Akkunji, have failed drugs tests in recent days, denting the country’s Olympic ambitions.

The trio were part of the women’s 4x400m relay teams that won the gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, last year.

Akkunji also claimed the 400m hurdles Asiad title in a personal best time.

All athletes have been provisionally suspended pending the testing of their second, or “B”, samples.

“Athletes and the weightlifters, in most cases, are less educated or not educated at all.

They just take what their coaches give them,” said Nehwal, who won a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

“It is really sad that the athletes don’t know what they take. The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) website is very informative and has a complete list of the banned substances.

“A player can easily log on and see if the drugs that they are consuming are in the banned list or not.”

India’s Sports Minister Ajay Maken sacked Yuri Ogorodnik, the Ukrainian coach of the country’s top female 400m runners.

The athletes have all protested their innocence and blamed contaminated food supplements for the results. They have also claimed that there were not enough doctors to advise them on which supplements to take.

“You must be very careful about the medicine before consuming it. The athletes should not purchase any kind of supplements from the medical shop without any supervision,” said Nehwal.

Doping has afflicted Indian sport over the last decade, with weightlifters the chief culprits.