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Athlete fails test at Asian Games

A teenage Cambodian soft tennis player has failed a drug test at the Asian Games and been kicked out, the second athlete to be caught for doping this week, organisers said yesterday.

Yi Sophany failed a test on September 16 ahead of the start of the Games in Incheon, South Korea. The Olympic Council of Asia said Sophany’s urine sample tested positive for the banned stimulant sibutramine.

An OCA statement said the 18-year-old has been disqualified from the Games and her accreditation withdrawn.

Tajikistan footballer Khurshed Beknazarov, 20, tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine and was kicked out of the Games on Tuesday.

Beknazarov’s urine sample was taken after he played one half of Tajikistan’s 1-0 win over Singapore on September 14.

According to medication information website drugs.com, sibutramine is used as a dietary aid to treat obesity. It has been withdrawn from the US market since 2010.

However, Tennis Cambodia secretary general Tep Rithivit, speaking to the Post yesterday from Incheon, said he believed a cold/flu remedy to be the cause of the positive test, with results from the B sample yet to be announced.

Soft tennis is a demonstration sport in Incheon, with a total of 87 players from 13 countries set to compete in men’s and women’s singles, doubles and team events as well as mixed doubles games from next Monday.

It differs from regular tennis in that it uses soft rubber balls in place of hard yellow balls.

Hijab row hits off
The Olympic Council of Asia has squarely blamed the world governing bodies of basketball (FIBA) and tennis (ITF) for the controversial incidents that has rocked the 17th Asian Games during the first week of competition.

The Qatar women’s basketball team forfeited their group matches against Mongolia on Wednesday and Nepal yesterday after refusing to remove the Islamic head scarf, the hijab, as demanded by the officials before the game at the Hwaseong Sports Complex.

Meanwhile six tennis players withdrew from the Games to play in the China Open, a professional tour event in Beijing, for fear of being slapped with a fine of US$100,000 and a three-year suspension.

In a statement, the OCA said the blame for those incidents lay at the feet of the international federations, contending that both FIBA and ITF violated the Olympic Charter “as they prevented athletes from representing their flag at international events”.

“Every athlete has the right to represent their country’s flag without discrimination or without the threat of a financial penalty,” OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam said.

“This information came to us at a late stage, on [Monday], after the Asian Games had started, but the Asian sports federations concerned – FIBA Asia and the Asian Tennis Federation – have been engaged with their international federations – FIBA and ITF – since 2008 for the preparation of the Games.”

“The authorities of both federations have the duty to protect their athletes and allow them to exercise their right of freedom of choice with dignity,” he added.

Football’s world governing body FIFA lifted the ban on religious headdress earlier this year and other sports at the Asian Games allow athletes to wear the hijab. All four members of the Iranian lightweight women’s quadruple sculls team wore it as they rowed to a bronze medal on Wednesday.

Basketball remains one of the exceptions although the sport’s world governing body indicated earlier this month that it had plans to introduce a two-year testing phase on what players can wear. World basketball regulations list headgear and hair accessories among the items that are prohibited on the court.

Qatari player Amal Mohamed A Mohamed said they had been assured before they travelled to the Games in Incheon that they would be able to wear the hijab and warned that her team would continue to boycott matches if the rule remained unchanged.

OCA Assembly
The 33rd Olympic Council of Asia’s General Assembly was held at the Songdo Convensia last Saturday, with the formal contract signing for Jakarta to host the next edition of the Asian Games in 2018 taking place in the morning session.

Hanoi had originally been named in 2012 to stage the games in 2019, one year before the Tokyo Olympics, but the Vietnamese capital backed out earlier this year citing severe economic pressures.

Even though the Indonesian city of Surabaya had lost out to Hanoi then, the National Olympic Committee with the support of the government renewed its bid to organise the games in Jakarta, with Palembang also backing the proposal.

The OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah explained that Indonesia wanted to host the 18th Asian Games in 2018, rather than 2019, because of presidential elections that year and met all the requirements of the OCA for hosting.

Following a presentation from Indonesia, headed by IOC member, OCA executive board member and Indonesian Olympic Committee president Rita Subowo, Sheikh Ahmad urged the delegates to approve the bid, and this was subsequently met with a round of applause.

The president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach told the Assembly that the really great opening ceremony displayed in a unique way the harmony and sport in Asia.

“You have worked with great determination and consistency to reach new heights for sport in Asia, and the IOC is very grateful for this great success. The cooperation between the OCA and IOC has never been closer or better than now,” the IOC president said.

The six OCA Merit Award winners for distinguished service to sport in Asia were also announced during the Assembly.

They are IAGOC president Kim Young Soo, OCA vice president Park Yong Sung, Myanmar Olympic Committee joint secretary general Khin Maung, Uzbekistan NOC president Mirabror Usmanov and Kuwait’s Khaled Al Hamad and Yousef Shaheen Alghanim Lwin.

The Sheikh Fahad Hiroshima Asia Fund Science Award went to the Qatar Sport Medicine Committee and to Dr Lotfali Pourkazemi, president of the Sports Medicine Federation of Iran.

There was also a signing ceremony for the Olympic Academy in Doha between the OCA and the Qatar Olympic Committee.

The Assembly included presentations from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is running an ad hoc division at the Asian Games for the first time to arbitrate in any disputes, by Olympic Solidarity, the Association of National Olympic Committees and by the organising committees of Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018.

Meanwhile, the first OCA Partner Summit for Olympic sponsorship of NOCs was held the next day at the same venue. During the summit, the delegates heard presentations from major sports sponsors such as Aon, BP, Coca-Cola and Heineken and panel discussions between industry experts.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP AND DAN RILEY

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