ON THE day it was announced that American triple Olympic champion Marion Jones was in the clear after her back-up sample tested negative for the blood-boosting EPO (Erythropoietin), there came further proof that doping in India is on the rise and starts very young.
On Thursday, Virender Nanavati, secretary, Swimming Federation of India, told HT that in July, two junior (U-17) swimmers had tested positive at the national swimming championships in Chennai where the selection trials for the South Asian Games were held. They were temporarily suspended till their B (back-up) samples were analysed.
"Neither of the swimmers was in the Indian team for the South Asian Games in Colombo in August," Nanavati said from Ahmedabad. "We immediately suspended them till formalities were over." He refused to name the swimmers.
The World Anti-Doping Agency does not allow pre-departure tests. But India screens its athletes because of a Delhi High Court ruling, asking that testing be done to avoid the embarrassment caused by the high number of Indian athletes getting caught at international events.
Most of those accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs have been adults but after discus thrower Seema Antil was stripped of her junior world championship bronze in 2000, doping among young sportspersons has been acknowledged as the next big problem.