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Running into trouble

india Updated: Jul 03, 2011 01:10 IST
Navneet Singh

In a blatant violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), in association with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), has screened athletes bound for the Asian Athletics Championships, beginning in Kobe, Japan, from July 7.

WADA has banned screening (or pre-departure tests) before international meets as it feels it sends out a wrong signal that the nation in question encourages athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs and sends only “clean athletes.”

The AFI, shaken by the series of positive cases of top athletes earlier this week, sent an SOS to NADA to screen the Japan-bound athletes. The move was to avoid further embarrassment in the first major international track and field event of the season. HT has learnt that NADA collected over 30 urine samples between June 27 and 28 from the Bangalore and Patiala national camps, and the results will be available on Monday.

A top athlete, who was training with his personal coach in Ranchi, was asked by the AFI to come to Delhi for the pre-departure test. He was then told to attend the camp in Patiala and await further instructions.

NADA director general, Rahul Bhatnagar, agreed that the screening was against the WADA code. “We generally discourage federations on pre-departure tests and tell them to inform NADA at least 20 days in advance,” he said.

“We sometimes agree to a federation’s request because a positive case in an international competition will be even more embarrassing for the nation.”

Perhaps, this could be the reason why the AFI is not announcing the team for the Asian Championships. When contacted, AFI director, ML Dogra, said, “The team will be announced on Monday.” It’s clear that the federation does not want to take chances and if the results throw up a positive case, the athlete would be axed from the squad.

Depleted relay team
With almost the entire team testing positive, the original 4x400m women’s relay team might not even go to the Asian Championships. According to sources, the 800m women athletes might be chosen to represent the country and it won’t be the full squad of six. Only four will go. Though no one from the 4x400m men’s team tested positive, AFI is planning to send a four-member squad instead of six.