HANGZHOU, China (Reuters): Pakistan's first athletics world championship medallist Arshad Nadeem has pulled out of the Asian Games with a knee injury, foiling a javelin showdown with India's Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra on Wednesday.
The Games were also hit by a second doping case, with a Saudi runner banned after returning a positive drug test.
Nadeem, runner-up to Chopra at the recent world championships in Budapest, had a scan in Hangzhou after experiencing pain in his right knee, the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) said.
"The MRI revealed a chronic injury which he has been carrying," the POA said in a statement.
"After consulting the medical personnel, Mr. Arshad Nadeem has now decided not to participate in the Asian Games in order to prevent any untoward situation that may hinder his training program and participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."
The injury is a boost for Chopra's hopes of defending his Asian Games gold in the evening session of the athletics later on Wednesday.
Another athlete who is out of the Games is Saudi Arabian distance runner Yousef Mohammed Alasiri, who tested positive for darbepoetin and had been provisionally suspended, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said.
Darbepoetin is a re-engineered form of erythropoietin, also known as EPO, a common blood-booster.
Alasiri, 34, was entered in the men's 10,000 metres but did not start the race. He was also entered in the 5,000m but is no longer on the start list for the event later on Wednesday.
Afghanistan boxer Mohammad Khaibar Nooristani was provisionally suspended last week for a positive test.
China completed a sweep of the race walking events, picking up gold in the mixed team 35km early on Wednesday, with Japan taking silver ahead of bronze-winning India.
Chinese walkers dominated the men's and women's individual events, taking gold and silver in each.
Myanmar claimed their first gold of the Games, beating Indonesia for the men's quadrant title in sepak takraw, the traditional kick volleyball sport popular in Southeast Asia.
Qatar's Olympic champion Mutaz Barshim will bid for a third Asian Games gold in the high jump later on Wednesday, 13 years after winning his first in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Four-times Asian Cup champions Japan play Hong Kong in the semi-finals of men's soccer and will be expected to cruise into the gold medal decider.
South Korea meet Uzbekistan in the other semi-final. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)