Sacked Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogrodnik defended himself, saying that he has no role in the doping scandal that hit Indian athletics, and he had given only medals to the country and not steroids to the athletes.
Yuri’s sacking was announced by Sports Minister Ajay Maken who held the Ukrainian responsible for the dope flunk of six of his wards, including three of the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold—winning women relay quartet.
“I told the athletes to buy only the food supplements and not steroids. I am not suited for that (to tell athletes to do a wrong thing). I am a professional coach,” he said.
“I am not a fool to tell athletes to buy and consume something which is in the WADA list. I have given only medals and not steroids,” said Yuri, who has been in charge of the women’s 400m, 400m Hurdles and 4x400m relay since 1999.
Out of the eight athletes who returned positive for anabolic steroids, six -— Ashwini Akkunji, Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Panwar - are all quartermilers.
The dope tainted athletes, including Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose, had said they suspected the vitamin supplements they consumed on the recommendation of their coach could have been the source of the anabolic steroids, but Yuri said he would not know about this.
“I don’t know how the supplements would have contained the steroids. I have only asked the athletes to buy food supplements. I don’t know who did that (to buy supplements which could have been contaminated),” Yuri told ‘Times Now’.
Besides the sacking of Yuri, two Indian coaches - Ramesh Nagapuri and R S Sidhu - who looked after women’s 400m, 400m Hurdles and 4x400m relay have been kept under observation by the Sports Ministry.