05 June, 2011 - Published 12:55 GMT

By Saroj Pathirana
BBC Sinhala service

Gold medallist admits taking banned drugs

Sri Lanka's Commonwealth gold medallist Chinthana Geethal Vidanage has admitted unknowingly taking a banned substance months before the Asian Games in China.

He told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya that the nutritional supplement he has taken was only added to the banned drugs list in 2010 by WADA.

"I have never taken any medication from any suspicious people, I always go to the government hospital," he said.

A banned substance called Methylhexaenamine was found in his urine sample in a test carried out by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

Methylhexaenamine is a dietary supplement as well as treatment for hypertrophied or hyperplasic oral tissues, according to Wikipedia.

'Would not lose gold'

He did not know, Vidanage said, that the supplement he took contained a banned substance at the time of consuming it.

"And the latest production of the same tablet does not contain the banned substance," Chintana Vidanage told the BBC.

He insisted that he had nothing to hide as he has knowingly not committed an offence.

"I would not have taken the food supplement tablet if I knew it contained a banned substance."

Sports authorities in Sri Lanka are to appeal to the world's body to be sympathetic as the athlete admits taking a banned substance unknowingly, officials say.

RB Wickramasinghe, national weightlifting coach, told BBC Sandeshaya that Chinthana Vidanage would not lose the Commonwealth gold or silver medals he won thereafter as his urine sample was tested at the Asian Games in April, last year.

Vidanage who came fourth at the Asian Games in China was held in November, 2010, won a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Australia.

He also won a silver medal at the 2010 October New Delhi Commonwelath Games.

Manju 'no appeal'

"His failing of the dope test have an impact only on the Asian Games," Mr Wickramasinghe added.

Sri Lankan authorities have decided, together with the athlete, not to contest the finding but to appeal for a lenient punishment, according to the national coach.

But they are not seeking a re-test of the other urine sample, known as the B Sample.

The authorities expect that the weightlifter would be able to contest the 2012 London Olympics despite the controversy.

The admittance comes in the wake of five other national players including cricketer Upul Tharanga, boxer Manju Wanniarachchi and three rugby players who recently failed doping tests.

Dian Gomes, the former head of Sri Lanka Boxing Association told BBC Sandeshaya that Wanniarachchi has decided not to appeal against his losing the Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medal after testing positive for a banned substance.

Mr Gomes, Wanniarachchi's mentor, did not elaborate.