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Athletics | International

Ashwini Akkunji © Gallo Images

Banned athletes train at government centre

The Sports Authority of India has denied claims it is offering coaching to two banned athletes while it adheres to a court order allowing them to train at a prominent sports centre.

Local media reported this week that women's 400-metre runners Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur, who are serving two year bans for doping, are being coached in the northern city of Patiala.

"We don't support suspended athletes. We don't give financial support," SAI director-general Gopal Krishna was quoted as saying in Thursday's The Hindu newspaper. "But we cannot stop athletes from utilising the facilities. An athlete has to have training facilities. The Delhi High Court order also says so. No orders have been issued to assign any coach (to them)."

The Delhi High Court last March ruled that Akkunji, Kaur and two other athletes banned for doping be allowed to use SAI facilities in preparation of the London Olympics while they served a one-year ban by the National Anti-Doping Agency that would end just ahead of the games.

The bans were increased to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sports in July on an appeal by world governing body the IAAF, meaning the athletes missed the Olympics.

Allowing the athletes to train at a government centre is not in accordance with the rules of the UNESCO Convention for Doping in Sports, of which India is a signatory.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, while stating that suspended athletes should not train at camps organised by national federations, will only be able to bring more clarity to the issue of using government facilities after proposed changes to its draft code that are likely to be implemented on January 1, 2015.

Akkunji and Kaur won gold in the 4x400 relay at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. Akkunji also won the 400 hurdles at Guangzhou.

Akkunji tested positive for the steroid methandienone and Kaur for stanozolol, also a steroid, in tests conducted during domestic competition in 2011.


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