Two more test positive for anabolic steroids

New Delhi: The doping scandal in Indian athletics got murkier on Monday with two more athletes, including the country’s new golden girl Ashwini Akkunji, testing positive for anabolic steroids hours before their departure for Japan for the Asian Championships.

Apart from Akkunji, quartermiler Priyanka Panwar also returned positive for anabolic steroids in the dope tests conducted on June 27 by NADA at NIS Patiala, taking the tally of dope offenders to eight in the last few days.

The development is all the more shocking as Akkunji, who had won gold in Commonwealth and Asian Games last year, and Panwar were to leave for Japan for July 7-11 Asian Championships by a 11:30 pm flight from here along with 35 other athletes.

The Athletics Federation of India has provisionally suspended both the athletes pending a hearing by a NADA disciplinary panel.

“It is sad to announce that two more athletes – Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Panwar – tested positive for anabolic steroids. We have provisionally suspended them. Next, they will be called for ‘B’ sample tests and then the necessary procedure will be followed,” Dogra told reporters.

Akkunji and Panwar were named in the 4x400m relay team for the Asian Championships, and Dogra said two other athletes in the 37—member team will take their places.

“We cannot send any replacement of the two athletes now but we will field a relay team in Japan. Two other athletes (besides Tintu Luka and Mrudula Korada) from the team will run in the relay,” he said.