NEW DELHI: Olympic-bound race walker K T Irfan and four other elite track-and-field athletes have returned negative for COVID-19 in a confirmatory second test conducted at Sports Authority of India’s Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, the nodal body said on Friday.
Irfan was among five athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 at the centre in a weekly test conducted on May 7.
But the SAI on Friday confirmed that all these athletes, who got their first jab of COVID-19 vaccine on April 29, have returned negative in the second test conducted on Thursday.
However, the SAI said out of 22 athletes, who underwent the tests, one is still positive but it didn’t disclose any further details.
“All have tested negative in the second test conducted yesterday, the results of which came this morning. All athletes at the SAI campus across the country are being tested on a weekly basis,” a SAI source told PTI.
A total of 16 tests were conducted on Friday, which included two steeplechase athletes, two male race walkers, a male middle and long distance runner, two female middle and long distance athletes, four para athletes, besides a para coach and an NCOE athlete.
Others to test negative are two SAI resident staff and one housekeeping worker.
During the weekly test conducted May 6 and 7, 22 athletes tested positive for coronavirus.
“They were asymptomatic and isolated and kept under medical observation. 21 of the 22 athletes have since tested negative after a repeat RT PCR test was done,” the SAI stated.
“Among those who have tested negative are race walker KT Irfan, middle and long distance athletes PU Chitra and Sandeep Kumar and para athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu. Hockey players Chinglensena Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad are also among those who have tested negative,’ the SAI said in a statement.
At SAI Bengaluru, where athletes in hockey, track and field and para-athletics are based, all have been vaccinated on April 29.
According to SAI, during the repeat test on May 10 and 13, 21 of the 22 athletes returned negative.
“The team of doctors are monitoring the health of the one athlete who continues to remain positive,” it said.
Due to a surge in coronavirus cases across the country, the decision was taken in March that all athletes and support staff based in SAI regional centres are being subjected to weekly testing to ensure their safety.
The recent developments came to light on Thursday after four male and one female athlete, besides four support staff, tested positive, following which SAI conducted another round of tests.
Last month, five Indian athletes training in the centre — Olympic-bound Priyanka Goswami, Asian Games 1500m gold-medallist Jinson Johnson, long distance runner Parul Chaudhary, steeplechaser Chinta Yadav and another race walker Eknath — had tested positive for the dreaded virus.
Russian race walk coach Alexander Artsybashev had also tested positive at that time.
Irfan returned negative at that time after he was tested as a primary contact of Johnson.
The SAI centre had also grappled with COVID-19 infection of Indian women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal, her six team-mates and two support staff members. All of them have since recovered after spending two weeks in quarantine.
The SAI centre in Bengaluru is the training base of the men’s and women’s hockey teams and track and field athletes.