NEW DELHI: Nineteen of India's kabaddi players have tested positive for banned drugs during trials for next month's kabbadi World Cup, the country's anti-doping agency said on its website Friday.
The 19 positive tests were recorded among 50 samples taken ahead of the World Cup to be hosted by the northern state of Punjab from November 1-20, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) said in the statement.
"NADA has taken this alarming position very seriously," the agency said, adding it had provisionally suspended the players pending a further probe.
The game is played between two seven-member teams in which individuals take turns to chase and attempt to touch members of the opposing team without being captured.
The sport, long dominated by South Asian countries, requires the players to hold their breath as they pursue their opponents, chanting "kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi."
India have won all six kabaddi gold medals in the Asian Games since its introduction as a regular discipline at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.
India also beat arch-rivals Pakistan to win the 2010 World Cup, a nine-team tournament held in Punjab.
Earlier this year, several Indian athletes tested positive for banned substances, leading to the sacking of Ukrainian track and field coach Yuri Ogorodnik.