The 31st edition of Australian Sikh Games in Sydney — the single largest annual event of Sikhs in Australia — ended on a controversial note, but sent out a strong anti-doping message. The organizers of the games, heldfrom March 30 to April 1, decided not to hold the final match of Kabaddievent — a crowd-puller — after two prominent players refused to undergo the dope test.
Amandeep Singh Sidhu, president of the games’ organising body, Australian National Sikh Sports and Cultural Council (ANSSACC), while speaking to TOI on phone from Australia, said, “We simply went by the rules and decided not to oblige prominent players who did not want to comply with the rules. Thousands waited impatiently for the match as the clubs tried to persuade their players to give their samples for dope testing, but when they refused, we called off the final. Our objectives include promoting Sikh culture and heritage and we couldn’t have compromised on an ethical issue.”
Describing the tension on and off the field, Gurshminder ‘Mintu’ Brar, a member of the executive body of ANSSAC said, “The spectators showed impatience over “delay in the final match”, but, when Sidhu made the announcement about the final being scrapped, citing a legend related to the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh, there was complete silence first and then people lauded the decision.
Brar added,“We take random samples for dope testing during every match.”
In fact, scores of Sikh netizens commended the decision. “This will help clean the games, especially the Kabaddi sport, which has grown to be a big money game in the last some years, with some players taking performance-enhancing drugs. Sydney will set a precedent for other sporting events,” said Australia-based S S Roomi.