Ayush Dabas, a 22-year-old 400m runner, has been removed from the national camp in Trivandrum after syringes and needles were found in his room during a routine check, the Athletics Federation of India said on Tuesday. The AFI, which prides itself as one of the first federations to adopt a ‘no needle’ policy, will have a disciplinary committee meeting to decide if Dabas can compete in future events.
“He was caught on June 8 and asked to leave immediately. The disciplinary panel will decide whether he can continue participating in competitions. Sports Authority of India and AFI -designated officials conduct searches from time to time. Anyone caught will be removed from camp immediately,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told The Indian Express.
The Uttar Pradesh athlete was taken into the national camp after clocking decent timings of 46.58s (personal best) and 46.68 at the U23 Nationals and Open Nationals respectively in September last year.
Before joining the camp, Dabas was training under former sprinter Dharambir Singh, who was handed an 8-year ban in 2016 for a second doping offence. Dabas last participated at the Inter-State Meet in Chennai earlier this month where he clocked 47.57s in the semifinals of the 400m.
This is not the first time an athlete has been found in possession of needles. A controversy had erupted after the 2018 Commonwealth Games organisers pulled up India for breaching the Games Village’s “no-needle” policy. Racewalker Irfan Kolothum Thodi and triple jumper Babu Rakesh Babu were sent home by the Commonwealth Games Federation post-hearing after needles were found in their rooms.
“There has been a clear breach to the no-needle policy and a CGA (Commonwealth Games Association) has been summoned to meet with the medical commission as part of our investigation,” Games chief David Grevemberg had told reporters then causing a major embarrassment for the Indian contingent.
In 2018, quarter-miler Chhavi Sharawat, who had taken AFI to the Supreme Court for non-inclusion in the Jakarta Asian Games squad, was removed from the camp for “possessing syringes”. The athlete has alleged it was a conspiracy to frame her.