South Asia

India Kabbadi players fail doping test

An Indian kabbadi player (L) is brought to the ground during the 2008 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Kabaddi Series
Image caption Kabbadi is a hugely popular sport across South Asia

Nine Kabbadi players in India have tested positive for a banned substance, bringing the number of failed tests up to 19 out of 50 over a month.

The tests were being carried by India's National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) ahead of next month's Kabbadi World Cup tournament in the state of Punjab.

Analysts say doping has become a major issue in India and authorities have had to impose stern testing regimes.

In July several Indian track and field athletes failed routine drugs tests.

Those athletes denied taking steroids and said that vitamin pills may have been to blame for the positive tests.

The samples with prohibited substances were taken during selection trials ahead of the second kabbadi World Cup tournament to be held in Punjab.

India's anti-doping agency decided to test every single player participating in the event. All those who tested positive have been suspended, the agency said.

Kabbadi is a very popular sport across South Asia. It involves two seven-member teams and in the game one "raider" enters the opposing team's half of a pitch to wrestle or tag opponents before returning back to his side.

But while he is "tagging" his opponents he has to hold his breath and chant "kabbadi kabbadi".