Sri Lanka water firm boils over stomach bug

LAUGFS Aqua System defends its product in the wake of players’ illnesses

Image Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
West Indies' batsman Dwayne Smith, right, walks from the pitch after being bowled out by Australia's Mitchell Starc, second left, during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.
Gulf News

Colombo: A local drinking water supplier strongly defended its product on Tuesday, even as World Twenty20 organisers jettisoned their bottled water after several players went down with stomach flu.

LAUGFS Aqua System said they had asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) for samples of suspect bottles of water, but got no immediate response except a statement that their product was off the table.

“We have done our own tests and confirmed that there is nothing wrong with our water,” LAUGFS general manager Chaminda Wijesinghe said. “We asked the ICC to give us water samples but we have got no response yet.”

He said players and officials may also have consumed bottles from other suppliers rather than LAUGFS mineral water while staying at Sri Lankan hotels.

“We don’t know what caused the problem but I can tell you it is not our water,” Wijesinghe said. “I am drinking it all the time.”

Several players from New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and Australia have reportedly been treated for stomach bugs since their arrival in Sri Lanka, with Kiwi Tim Southee even requiring hospital treatment for dehydration.

An ICC spokesman said on Monday that the brand of bottled water used by players and officials had been replaced. Players were supplied with a locally produced American-branded mineral water during training Tuesday.

Since Thursday, there had been no reports of any player coming down with stomach flu.

“Although there is no evidence to suggest that water was the cause of any illness, the product supplied for use in the tournament has been replaced,” the spokesman said.

A Sri Lankan source connected with the tournament said public health inspectors had checked the food given to the players and found nothing untoward.

“If an entire team, or at least a majority, go down, we can understand that there is something wrong with the food and beverages department,” the source said. “Just a few players have been affected.”

No official complaints had been lodged by any of the teams, he added.

Among players who went down with stomach trouble over the past two weeks were New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori, Mitchell Starc and Brad Hogg of Australia, and Paul Stirling and George Dockrell of Ireland.

The 12-nation tournament, Sri Lanka’s biggest sporting event, opened on September 18 and runs until October 7.


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