India's doping shame: Ukranian coach gave laced supplements?

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Ashwini Akkunji
New Delhi, Jul 6: In an incident where eight Indian athletes were tested positive for taking anabolic steroids brought India shame in the world stage. With the Sports Ministry led by Ajay Maken announcing that all foreign coaches in the athletics camp will be sacked, it is the future of the athletes that are in the doldrums at the moment. Recent reports have emerged that suggest the Ukranian coach has gone missing, with no news of his whereabouts.

After heartbreak and despair, one of the runners, Ashwini Akkunji has spoken out on the circumstances that led them to take such supplements that might have contained the anabolic steroids. Ashwini is a member of the gold-winning relay team in the Common Wealth Games 2010. She revealed that the food supplement from Ukraine that was provided to them by their coach, Yuri Ogorodnik could have been the culprit.

Akkunji also added that they consumed the supplement after the stock at the NIS, Patiala ran out. All food supplements and other medicines that these athletes take are used under the knowledge and order of the coach. The sports ministry have also kept two Indian coaches, Ramesh Nagapuri and R S Sidhu also under the scanner.

Akkunji added, “We started taking the supplements from May 10. One supplement, in capsule form, was given by Yuri (Ginseng based) while the other three were recommended by the Indian coaches at the camp. We bought them off the shelf. This is the first time we were buying supplements off the shelf."

The runners were tested positive for either stanozolol, epimethandiol or methandienone in various combinations. The parallel issue of the late renewal of Yuri's contract led to him loosing access to the girls for a period of six months after the Asian Games. He had then stated that there was a serious dip in the fitness levels of the girls. He has been quoted as saying to the Indian Express newspaper then, “For the Commonwealth and the Asian Games we had trained for nearly 18 months. The Olympics are a completely different level of competition. If you don"t train for five months, it is very hard to think of winning an Olympic medal."

Yuri slamming all allegations said that he was only there to give medals and not steroids. Meanwhile, the Indian coach R S Sidhu said, “The food supplement that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) provides on the recommendation of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) got over at the camp and that"s why the girls had to go elsewhere."

Akkunji stressing her innocence added, “We were very happy with the supplements provided ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games but after Guangzhou the stock wasn"t replenished. So we had to buy products off the shelf, recommended by our coaches, which wasn"t the case earlier. Unless these are tested, we won"t be able to prove our innocence. We don"t have a recovery expert. Who will educate us on what these supplements contain?"

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