Junior rowers at centre of Indian drugs investigation

22 Indian junior rowers test positive

1 minute read
Words Benedict Tufnell
Published 25.06.20

According to Inside The Games, the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) has launched an investigation after 22 members of its junior national squad tested positive for the same banned substance last year. 

The positive tests all occurred at a training camp held in July 2019 and each sample contained traces of Probenecid, a drug used to treat gout that is also a masking agent banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. All of the athletes who tested positive were under the age of eighteen.

India’s National Anti-Doping Agency director general, Navin Agarwal, told the Times of India newspaper that the rowing federation “needs to examine why such a large number of junior athletes were allowed to consume this substance in the camp”.

The RFI secretary general M.V. Sriram claims the positive tests were in error and could have resulted from a deliberate contamination.

“We are very sure that it is from a supplement which is approved by the Sports Authority of India,” Sririam told Agence France-Presse. “Though maybe in that particular batch there may have been some spiking which we were not aware of.”

The investigation comes amid several doping scandals to hit Indian sport recently,  including in athletics and weightlifting. India’s Asian 800 metres champion Gomathi Marimuthu received a four-year ban earlier this month after testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, while in May 2019 ten Indian weightlifters, including a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, were suspended from a national training camp after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. 

According to Inside The Games, India’s Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has called the incidents “very disturbing”.