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Drugged and desperate

A day after HT reported how athletes were handed over dope charts at NIS, Patiala, more startling revelations have come to the fore.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2011 01:24 IST
Navneet Singh

A day after HT reported how athletes were handed over dope charts at NIS, Patiala, more startling revelations have come to the fore.

Vijay Singh Chauhan, who was one of the government observers during the Commonwealth Games (CWG), felt the athletes and officials' desperation to win medals at the CWG and Asian Games might have led them to the dope trap.

Add to it, the pressure to perform at the London Olympics. "Girls in the preparatory camp must be in a hurry to prove themselves in the buildup to the Games," he told HT from Lucknow.

Chauhan felt the women's 4x400m relay team might have got over-ambitious, after their gold-medal winning performances last year, for a podium finish in the 2012 Games.

With the top-ranked 400m runners in the dope net, India's chances of qualifying in the 4x400m relay look bleak. "Now, even the Ukrainian coach (Yuri Ogorodnik) is out of the scene," said Chauhan.

"Even a seasoned runner like Manjeet Kaur (she holds the national record of 51.05s), is not fit and the second-string will not be able to improve their timing from an average 55s to the 52s bracket, without which the team will not reach the top-16, who will make it to the London Games," he said.

Chauhan, a former gold medallist in decathlon at the 1974 Tehran Asian Games, said the foreign coaches are the ones who pass on the knowledge of doping.

"People running the show knew it wasn't possible to win a medal in relay without the support of Ogorodnik. Apart from coaching, he is also an expert in pharmacology. It helped the gold medal-winning relay team test negative last year," he said.

Doping, he felt, was a worldwide phenomenon. "It began in the Eastern Bloc countries, spread to the US, and is common in India now. Even during the 1982 Asian Games, some of the top athletes took performance-enhancing drugs to win medals. A thrower, who won a medal, switched his urine sample, in connivance with officials, to avoid being testing positive.

"There was a time when the federation sent top athletes to West Germany for training as the country had an advanced system. Now, the foreign coaches come here loaded with performance-enhancing drugs," said the Olympian, who had spent four months in Cologne prior to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

It was during training there that he saw athletes taking banned drugs. "I saw top athletes injecting some medicine every other day," he recalled.

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