The Athletics Federation of India held a two-day Annual General Body meeting on Saturday and Sunday with a novel purpose. Two days of brainstorming brought out the good and the bad of the federation. This being a year of Commonwealth Games, that too in Delhi, and Asian Games, the federation sat down with earnestness to chalk out a plan for the year.
Of the many issues, two seemed to have troubled the federation most. One was the need to strengthen the grassroots and the other was to rid the sport of all 'embarrassing' activities that have dogged it. Of course, the calendar, which was of high priority because of the string of mega events this year, was also finalised after much deliberation.
Doping and age fudging
Doping has been an issue that has plagued the federation for a while. There have been positive cases both in out-of-competition and in-competition testing. However, this being the year of CWG, the federation is taking no chances. “We want to rid the sport of doping,” Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the federation, said.
The AFI, through its doping commission led by Dr Anil K Mendiratta, will keep a strict vigil and maintain its own 'whereabouts' list to track athletes. “Any athlete can be picked at any time without the knowledge of the state associations,” said Bhanot.
The federation's concerns were more on athletes who train individually and refrain from attending camps. The federation felt some institutional meets needed to be monitored more carefully.
“In institutional sport athletes perform, do well and get promotions. Its here where stringent action needs to be taken. The Services and the Railways have already got their anti-doping rules in place, but others need to follow more diligently,” said Bhanot.
Age-fudging is so rampant that despite having a medical panel, the federation is not being able to track cheats. According to the federation only 60-70 per cent of athletes in any age-group event end up being eligible to compete. “That is a serious number,” said Bhanot. “This is not just embarrassing and of grave concern, but we also spend a lot of money booking hotels and logistics.”
The calendar has been carefully charted keeping in mind the Asian Games in December, so that the season is extended beyond October.
The season this year will start in May and will continue till December. The season will open with Federation Cup in Ranchi on May 1.
Three Asian Grands Prix will be held in India (Pune, Bangalore and Chennai), while the Asian All Star will be held in Delhi on July 29 and 30.
The Indian GP this time will be held a day after the Asian GP and will include disciplines that are not included in the Asian GP. The National Open will be held from May 15-18 in Cochin and Inter-State Seniors will be held in Hyderabad from September 10-13, days before the CWG.