Commonwealth Games drug free, so far

AP News
Posted: Oct 09, 2010 10:32 AM
Commonwealth Games drug free, so far

The Commonwealth Games have been completely clean so far on at least one front: 500 athletes who have been tested for doping have all been given the all-clear.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell told a news conference Saturday that 1,500 doping tests were planned during the games period, "and that target remains." He said all tests conducted up to Thursday had come back negative, "and that is a positive result."

The federation is responsible for testing the athletes and the World Anti-Doping Agency is observing. Fennell said the number of tests will increase in pace with the number of finals _ under the testing regime, all medal winners are tested and some are done randomly.

It was good news for the games, which have been plagued by stomach illnesses affecting some swimmers, near-empty stadiums, construction delays, concerns about dengue fever and filthy conditions in the athletes' village before the games began.

Organizing committee officials said ticket sales for the games, which end on Oct. 14, are approaching the million mark _ 946,000 as of Friday, including nearly 55,000 sold on Friday itself. And they said the reason for half-empty stadiums where tickets are reportedly sold out was that corporate sponsors were not passing thousands of them along to clients.

In parts of the Commonwealth, the organizational blunders would be described as a bit of a "dog's breakfast."

It was no great surprise when a stray dog, common on the streets of New Delhi, sauntered onto the track at the main stadium and into the infield on Saturday morning, bringing hoots and roars of laughter from the crowd as workers tried to catch him.

"It's not an uncommon phenomenon," said IAAF technical director Keith Davies, who attends track meets around the world. "We've had dogs, we've had cats, foxes."

After roaming the track and evading two workers dispatched to shoo him off, the dog disappeared through a tunnel near the 100-meter starting line and disappeared.

The track invasion happened not long after Fennell had delivered his latest urge for local organizers to improve the ticket sales situation.

"On attendance, it is not fully satisfactory," Fennell said. "We will continue to keep pressure on the organizing committee to what can be done, whether it be sales or complimentary tickets to groups."

An outbreak of dengue fever was a concern after a prolonged monsoon season, heightened after an Indian team official was hospitalized last week with the potentially fatal disease.

Nigerian table tennis player Ekundayo Nasiru withdrew from competition on Saturday, but officials with the team said it was for malaria, another mosquito-born disease which is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa but not a major concern in the Indian capital.

The first two of 32 gold medals on offer Saturday went to Australia's Jared Tallent and England's Jo Jackson in the men's and women's 20-kilometer race walks. Jackson beat Tallent's wife, Clare.

Those were also the first events held outside the heavily secured venues, protected by 100,000 police and military. And were conducted without a hitch. The men's and women's road races will be held Sunday in the streets of downtown New Delhi.

Inside the aquatics center, Australia was again the dominant nation, finishing the six-day swim meet with 22 gold medals. Alicia Coutts won five of those to lead the individual count at New Delhi, and veteran Leisel Jones picked up her third in a week to join Australian swimming greats Susie O'Neill and Ian Thorpe with a record career haul of 10 Commonwealth Games titles.

Canada's Brent Hayden completed a freestyle sprint double on Saturday by edging defending champion Roland Schoeman in the 50 final, going with his gold in the 100.

World and Olympic champion Valerie Adams easily won the shot put gold medal, breaking her own Commonwealth Games record with her first attempt of 20.47 meters in an evening athletics final.

"Job done," Adams said. "That is what I wanted, to rip it up and throw big and win gold."

India remained on target at the range, where Gagan Narang won the men's 50-me rifle three positions final to claim his fourth gold medal at New Delhi 2010. He has contributed one-third of India's 12 golds at the range, helping keep the host country in a tight race with England for second place in the overall medal standings.

Archer Duncan Busby edged compatriot Chris White in the individual compound final to register England's 600th gold medal in Commonwealth Games history, and 22nd so far in Delhi.

Faavae Faauliuli made history at the other end of the spectrum, claiming Samoa's first Commonwealth Games gold medal when he won the men's 94-kilogram weightlifting title with a total of 334 kilograms.

"I feel happy and proud," Faauliuli said. "All my countrymen will be happy about my gold."