India let off with warning over needle issue

Susan Ninan in Gold Coast2 Minute Read
Ben Booth/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

India have been let off with a strong written reprimand by the Commonwealth Games Federation, finally bringing the needles issue to a close. On Saturday, reports had surfaced of used syringes being recovered outside the rooms of Indian boxers at the Games Village, leading to speculations of doping.

The Federation Court on Tuesday heard a complaint by the CGF medical commission against Dr Amol Patil, team doctor for the Indian boxers. During the investigation, Patil admitted to have administered a Vitamin B complex injection to an unwell athlete and detailed the use of all needles since March 19.

The court has directed the CGF to serve a copy of the reprimand to the Chef de Mission of the Indian team, Vikram Sisodia, who was advised to ensure that no further infractions of the CGF's Policies occur by any member of the Indian team.

The federation concluded that there had been a breach of Paragraphs I and II of the No Needles Policy, which requires that needles be securely stored and disposed, since the doctor had left the needles in the room while he made trips to the polyclinic to get sharp bins for disposal.

According to the statement issued by the CGF on Tuesday, though the doctor did not file an Injection Declaration Form following the injection as required by CGF's medical policies and standards, after the discovery of the needles, he complied with the direction of the Commission and emailed all the necessary information before noon the following day, which the court has not viewed as a breach.

The statement also noted that the Indian team comprises of 327 persons, but just one doctor (apart from the doctor assigned to boxing) and physiotherapist.

The controversy dominated headlines over the weekend, leading to speculations over the nature and intent of the act, especially in the absence of any clarity. The initial reaction from the Indian camp was one of outright denial, even going as far as suggesting that it was actually a member of the country's contingent who discovered the needles and handed them over to the authorities.

However, more questions were raised after Indian boxing high performance coach Santiago Nieva's admission to a television network that the needles were used to administer a vitamin supplement to a sick athlete.

The CGF, which has been careful through the unfolding of the issue to not name the national federation in question, clarified late on Monday that the breach had nothing to do with dope. For the organizers and CGF, too, these have been a testing couple of days, right ahead of the Games.

Following the hearing, CGF CEO David Grevemberg looked a relieved man. "Finally we can get on with what we're here for."