Asian Games: Hijab, drugs controversies hit Games

Asian Games: Hijab, drugs controversies hit Games
Qatar's women's basketball team leaves the court after forfeiting their women's basketball game against Mongolia at Hwaseong Sports Complex during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 24, 2014. The Qatar women's basketball team forfeited a game at the Asian Games on Wednesday after being refused permission to wear the hijab, saying they were taking a stand against what they say is a discriminatory policy against Muslim women.

INCHEON, South Korea - Qatar's women's basketball team stood defiant over a ban on their Muslim headscarves Thursday as a second doping case and match-fixing fears overshadowed the Asian Games.

The Qatari women forfeited a second game in Incheon because under International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, they are not allowed to play in hijabs or other headgear.

"We are not going to the stadium today and for the other matches, as we will not be allowed to play because of the international basketball federation," a Qatar Olympic Committee official told AFP.

Mounting controversies stole attention from world records in archery and shooting and an improved performance by South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan in the 100 metres freestyle heats.

Qatar's women were to play Nepal on Thursday, a day after they walked on court to face Mongolia but quickly departed when told they could not play.

FIBA's ban on headwear in international competition is motivated by safety but it has raised hackles at Asia's Olympics, which includes several Muslim nations.

"It's an insult to us, they don't respect religion," Qatari player Rafaa Morgan Mohammed told AFP.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which runs the quadrennial Asian Games, criticised FIBA. Other sports such as football allow religious headwear.

"Every athlete has the right to represent their country's flag without discrimination," OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam said late on Wednesday. 

'Manipulated matches'

Cambodian soft tennis player Yi Sophany, 18, became the second athlete caught in the doping net when she tested positive for the banned stimulant sibutramine.

She follows 20-year-old Tajik footballer Khurshed Beknazarov, who was kicked out for doping on Tuesday and has been provisionally banned by Asian football authorities.

And authorities launched an investigation after betting analysis company Sportradar said it "strongly" suspects match-fixing in the men's football competition.

"We can say that we strongly believe there have been manipulated matches at the Asian Games," Andreas Krannich, managing director of strategy and integrity, told The New Paper in Singapore.

Krannich did not reveal the teams involved but said attention was focusing on at least one group game where late goals were scored.

"The odds movements and the deviations caused alerts, belying clear betting evidence that could never be justified in a regular contest," he said.

The OCA said it would work with the Asian Football Confederation and world body FIFA to investigate the claim.

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