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Photo: Saab Press

IAAF clears Sunita Rani of doping charges

Indian athletics star Sunita Rani's nightmare of being branded a drug cheat ended when she was cleared of doping charges by the International Association of Athletics Federations. At the Busan Asian Games in October 2002, she had been stripped of the 1,500 metres gold and 5,000 metres bronze medals on suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Her time of 4:06:03 (minutes:seconds:subseconds) was an Asian record in the 1,500 metres. The previous record of 4:12.48 was set by China's Qu Yunxia in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1994. Rani won bronze in the 5,000 metres in 15:18.77 and was one of six runners who bettered the previous Games record of 15:54.45, set by Indonesia's Sutono in Bangkok in 1998. At the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, she won silver in the 5,000 metres and bronze in the 1,500 metres.

The drug controversy threatened to take away all the sheen from Rani's and India's showing at the Asiad. Rani maintained her innocence throughout and was eventually vindicated. The IAAF accepted an internal inquiry by the Amateur Athletics Federation of India, which cleared the athlete and contested the reliability of the tests done at the Games laboratory, pointing to huge fluctuations in the readings of Sunita's A and B urine samples.

Text: Ivan Crasto

Also read: Olympic Council of Asia reinstates medals

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