Akkunji among six Indians banned for doping

Six Indian women athletes, including ace 400 metre runner Ashwini Akkunji, were each handed one-year bans Friday for doping violations, leaving little hope of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

All six tested positive for banned substances in either June or July and the bans will be backdated to the time of their tests, said National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) Dinesh Dayal.

In Pic: Ashwini Akkunji

With the Olympics beginning July 27, the ruling is likely to prevent any of them qualifying for the Games.

The other athletes banned with Akkunji were Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose, Tiana Mary Thomas, Jauna Murmu and Priyanka Panwar -- all 400m runners.

They had faced a maximum two-year suspension, but Dayal said the ban had been reduced to one year as there was no evidence they had taken the banned substances intentionally.

"We did not find any significant fault on the part of these athletes on how the banned substance entered their bodies," Dayal said.

Their Ukranian coach, Yuri Ogorodnik, was sacked in July.

Akkunji, Mandeep and Jose were part of the women's 4x400m relay team that won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, last year.

Akkunji also bagged the 400m Asian Games hurdles title.

India has never won a track medal at the Olympics and the women's 4x400m relay team was seen as the country's main hope of a podium finish in London.

The athletes had all protested their innocence and blamed contaminated food supplements for the results.

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