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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK

Rai protests innocence

Indian weightlifter Satheesha Rai has denied taking a banned substance, despite testing positive at the Commonwealth Games.

Rai won two golds and a bronze in the men's 77kg category in Manchester, but was told by officials on the last day of the Games that his tests showed signs of an unidentified stimulant.

"I do not need a stimulant to win a medal"
Satheesha Rai

He has strenuously denied taking any illegal substances to aid his performance.

"I have taken some food supplements such as vitamins," Rai said. "I have been tested 35 times before and never has it proved negative.

"When I heard during the concluding day of the games that my tests proved positive for a stimulant I was shocked.

"It was beyond my imagination. I have been representing India since 1993.

"Even having five cups of coffee or a tablet for a common cold will show up as a stimulant. But I had none of these either."

The Commonwealth Games Federation has not made an official announcement about Rai's positive test.

But Indian Olympic Association director AVS Prasad confirmed Rai's positive test on Monday.

Fellow Indian lifter Krishnan Madasamy was stripped of his three silver medals in the 62kg category after testing positive for a metabolite of the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.

Rai added: "In the case of Madasamy he was told to leave the village the very minute.

"But in my case it was not so. I do not know what is happening. I will call up the Indian Olympic Association to find out the facts."

Rai said he had no craving for winning medals and that he had no reason to take any banned substances.

"Winning a medal is not a big thing for me," he said.

"I do not need a stimulant to win a medal. I have participated in the Asian Games, World Championships and other big events.

"In the Commonwealth Games the difference between me and the second winner is about 12 kilogrammes.

"We were tested three times in two months in the run-up to the games.

"I was also taking an ayurvedic (herbal) drug during those times. But the results were again negative.

"Before leaving for the games the Sports Authority of India also conducted a test and it showed negative."

India enjoyed their best-ever Games, winning 32 golds, 21 silvers and 19 bronze medals.

They finished third in the medals table, but if Rai's medals were taken away from him then Canada would move above them.

If Rai is told to hand back his medals, the chief beneficiary will be Welshman Dave Morgan.

He finished with a trio of silver medals, two of which would be upgraded to gold if the Indian is found guilty.


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