The rampant use of a recently banned doping substance has left some Indian sports officials stunned ahead of next month's Commonwealth Games.
The stimulant methylhexaneamine, banned earlier this year, has been found in the urine samples of several Indian wrestlers, swimmers and track athletes.
Last week, 11 people tested positive for the drug, including seven picked for next month's Games in New Delhi. Those caught include six wrestlers, four whom were part of the Commonwealth Games contingent. The "B" samples of all the wrestlers have confirmed the use of the banned substance.
"It is a shock for all of us and I feel the athletes must have taken these drugs unknowingly," national wrestling coach Jagminder Singh said Tuesday. "Our wrestlers had been tested regularly and told of new banned substances, so this should not have happened."
Five other Indian athletes tested positive last week, but have not had their 'B' samples tested yet. Three of them -- two swimmers and a shot putter -- had been selected for the Games.
Dr. P.S.M. Chandran, who works with the National Anti-Doping Agency, agreed that it was rare for athletes across sports to use the same banned substance.
"It could be that they were using the drug for some time but did not realize that it was now a banned substance," Chandran said. "It is not a hard drug and traces of it can even be found in some cooking oils."
Former Olympic athlete Ashwini Nachchappa said officials could also be to blame for the positive tests.
"The results have been quite disappointing," said Nachchappa, who was at her peak as a sprinter in the late 1980s. "Not just athletes, but the coaches and administrators too need to take responsibility for this."