Condom-plugged toilets, empty seats at Commonwealth

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:18 PM ET

DELHI -- Some officials are blaming pigeon droppings, others say it has to do with faulty plumbing at the SP Mukharjee swimming complex.

Some suspect excessive chlorine is being pumped into the pools. Or maybe it is just the flushed condoms that are plugging up the works.

Whatever the cause, numerous swimmers at the Commonwealth Games have been stricken with "Delhi belly."

If, indeed, there is something in the water "we must find out this immediately," Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said during a Thursday news conference. "If there is something unsafe, you can't swim in that water."

Two Australian swimmers, Ernest Stoeckel and Andrew Lauterstein, pulled out of the men's 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly preliminaries because of stomach woes.

Competition manager Kamlesh Nanavati denied that the water was sub-standard, the Hindustan Times reported. But Nanavati did admit that a few toilets were "dirty" and there "wasn't adequate water in the players' rooms."

Team England criticized blocked toilets at the swimming complex and demanded water-testing.

The London Evening Standard reported that an investigation pointed to pigeon droppings, feathers and insects within the venue as the cause of the illnesses.

Swimming Canada spokesman Martin Richard reported no major illnesses.

Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., who won the 100-metre freestyle Thursday, said he had an upset stomach and diarrhea but wrote off the illness as a usual travel ailment.

Meanwhile, there have been more problems at the athletes village, where construction and sanitation threatened to derail the Games. This time it's condom-plugged toilets.

The front-page headline Thursday in the Mail Today newspaper screamed: "It's a rubbery problem at the CWG village."

Fennell said he hoped the issue would be resolved quickly. But he saw an upside to the situation: "If that is happening, it shows there is use of condoms and that is a very positive story."

Games organizers had provided 8,000 free condoms in the village, and the provision appears to be in high demand. One official told Mail Today that more than 4,000 already had been snapped up by eager athletes.

-- with files from Reuters

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca


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