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Cheating, doping & knowing it

india Updated: Jul 06, 2011 11:00 IST
Navneet Singh

Despite eight athletes testing positive for doping, sports minister, Ajay Maken, has denied Indian athletes deliberately took the banned substances.

"It's happened out of sheer ignorance on the part of the athletes, who are generally from the rural areas or are not highly educated," Maken said during a press conference here on Tuesday.

Haven't we heard this explanation before? http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/06_07_11-metro19b.jpg

The minister, however, forgot that the same athletes have been participating for around five years, not just in the national circuit, but also in the international arena.

Given the various anti-doping programmes being run at the training venues, as has been admitted by the athletes, no banned substance can escape their knowledge.

Proof lies in the doping charts, some of which are in HT's possession, that were given to the athletes in 2002 during national camps at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.

The chart was circulated by one of the foreign experts from Ukraine to athletes as well as coaches in Patiala before the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

It was not limited to the 2002 Games.

Even in 2004, before the Athens Olympics, top athletes followed a structured doping programme and were handed out similar hand-written charts, which were prepared according to personal needs and individual bodyweights.

For example, the white tablet, a Russian-made drug similar to neurobol or manbol, was consumed in doses of two tablets before breakfast and again before lunch. The athletes also took winstrol, again a banned substance.

However, doping activities were at their peak during the 2004-2005 season, which saw brilliant performances by top athletes, particularly the 400m runners.

In the following years, since outstanding performances were recorded by the international athletics body, athletes didn't take banned substances for long durations to avoid being caught by dope testing officials.

Despite the strict vigil during their trip to South Africa, prior to the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, top Indian athletes managed to give the WADA officials the slip, and as a result, none of them were caught.

Thereafter, instead of swallowing pills on a regular basis, short-term methods were adopted to gear up for a particularly event.

A national-level coach, who pleaded anonymity, said fringe runners were chosen and given performance-enhancing drugs to deliver in designated national and international meets.

Since they were not high profile, the athletes were never screened. Thereafter, they disappeared from the scene.