Indians fail drugs tests in new blow for Delhi Games

In an embarrassing blow to India's sporting hopes a month before it hosts the Commonwealth Games, eight of its athletes have been suspended after failing drugs tests.

Five were to have competed in the games and one was considered a gold medal prospect.

Officials in Delhi confirmed yesterday that six wrestlers, a shot putter and another athlete, tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned stimulant used as a nasal decongestant. The Indian team will have to find replacements for their athletes. The athletes can request that a second, "B" sample is tested but the results will not be completed before the start of the games.

The biggest blow is the loss of the Olympian Rajiv Tomar, considered a gold medal prospect in the men's 120kg freestyle wrestling. Their team mates Mausam Khatri and Sumit Kumar, and the female wrestler Gursharanpreet Kaur, also tested positive.

Saurabh Vij, a medal prospect in the men's shot put, also tested positive. "It is unfortunate these failed tests came just before the Games," Rahul Bhatnagar, who heads the National Anti-Doping Agency, told reporters. "But we have a no-tolerance policy towards that. They can get their 'B' tests done if they want."

It is not the first time Indian sport has faced doping claims. Last year, the country's weightlifting federation was fined $500,000 by the sport's governing body after six of its competitors failed drugs tests. The federation paid $125,000 of the fine and had to borrow the rest. In January, four wrestlers were asked to leave the national training camp after testing positive for steroids.