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As easy as buying toffee

india Updated: Jul 02, 2011 01:31 IST
Navneet Singh

Believe it or not, the banned drugs, similar to the ones India’s top quarter-miler Mandeep Kaur tested positive, are available over the counter in the Capital’s medical shops. Drugs like manabol, deca-durabolin or testosterone come cheap and can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. It’s as easy as a child going to a store to buy chocolate.

The HT team, which visited a medical store in Connaught Place on Friday, paid just R500 for the cocktail of banned drugs — 10 tablets of manabol, one vial of deca-durabolin (100mg) and a vial of testosterone. No questions were asked and nor did the store owner ask for a prescription as he handed out the steroids, which are sufficient to keep an athlete going for a month in a national-level event.

A top athlete, who refused to go on record, said there were other drugs like strychnine and erythropoietin (EPO), which though banned, are easily accessible. “The ready availability means it is easier for an ordinary athlete to prop up his performance.”

However, water-based drugs, most of which are imported, cost more. But with financial gains and better career prospects driving the athletes’ desire to win medals at international events, the focus has shifted from oil-based Indian drugs to foreign-made water-based drugs.

Though costlier, the latter score higher as the wash out time is much quicker vis-à-vis the Indian drugs. Arun Mendiratta, chairman medical commission, Athletics Federation of India (AFI), feels a crackdown is long overdue. “There should be some sort of check on delivering anabolic steroids over the counter. If medical shops refuse to give steroids without a prescription, nearly half of the doping menace in the country will be sorted out,” said the medical expert, who is one of the five members on the medical panel of the Asian Athletics Association.