What pugilists Ram Singh and Vijender Singh are alleged to have done seems like a sort of a sub-culture in Indian sports. As many as 338 sportspersons, many of them national and international level players, have been awarded punishment for use of drugs by the anti-doping disciplinary panel in the last three years. Of these, 32 are women.
As per information from the Union sports ministry, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has conducted a total of 9,898 tests on sportsperson to ascertain the use of drugs and banned substances. The tests have been conducted during and outside competitions.
Hardly any sporting discipline remains untouched from the use of drugs. The 338 athletes punished in the last three years include wrestlers, boxers, body-builders, swimmers, weight-lifters, rowers, basketball and volleyball players, shooters, kabaddi players, cyclists and even equestrian and rugby players.
In the last three years, 14 boxers have been punished for using drugs. But as a discipline, drug usage seems most prolific in athletics that has had 46 cases and is closely followed by weight and power-lifting which has recorded 45 cases.
Other than these, 15 wrestlers, 23 kabaddi players and 13 body-builders have also been booked. Interestingly, Sharad Kumar, an athlete who participates in the Paralympics has also been booked.
Former Olympian Ashok Dhyanchand said that drug use is more frequent in disciplines that require greater stamina and physical energy. "Sportspersons are under tremendous pressure to win.
The stakes are high, there is money and fame to be earned in sports and those using drugs don't think they would get caught as testing is random," he said. Sports federations need to do more to stop this, he added.
"Performance enhancing drugs do not really help in disciplines like wrestling that are acyclic events, but many use these drugs because they want a shortcut to success," said Kripa Shankar, coach of national women's wrestling team.
"Coaches have an important role in ensuring that players don't resort to performance-enhancing drugs. However, at times coaches also want instant fame and turn a blind eye to use of such drugs," says Mumtaz Khan, joint secretary of the National Athletics Federation. The incidence of use of such drugs in academies in MP has not been much, he added.