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Sports science is the missing key

The tainted athletes all probably had an idea that the supplements they were taking were probably not legal. However, they still had no idea what it was that they were ingesting.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2011 23:26 IST
Manisha Malhotra

The tainted athletes all probably had an idea that the supplements they were taking were probably not legal. However, they still had no idea what it was that they were ingesting.

The bottom line is that to be able to be at the top of the world in a lot of sports, ‘supplementation’ is now part of the parcel. While this may be the underbelly for everything wrong in sport, it is an unfortunate fact. It is a subject that is never openly spoken about yet it has been linked with the success of countries like China, Russia and even USA.

That being said, it is also a fact that it has to be administered in the most scientific of manners. Since our country has absolutely no sports science facilities whatsoever, athletes are liable to take whatever their coaches or team doctors (who have no experience in the field) give them without any independent verification.

The various medicines that fall under the banner of ‘supplements’ are meant to aid training and maximise results.

These are scientifically chosen by doctors by testing the body and are tailor-made as per phases of training and times when the athlete needs to peak.

The point everyone is missing is the fact that all of this has to be backed by world-class training to be effective. This is what makes the situation that went down at NIS so appalling. The athletes don’t have any cutting edge training and neither do sports scientists monitor them. So taking these supplements is actually futile because the effect they would have on the athletes is negligible. By just taking these “drugs” the athletes still have no shot at being world beaters.

What the concerned authorities need to understand is that sports science is a must. In disciplines that have a very small margin between gold and last place, it is the peripherals like fitness, nutrition and good old sports medicine that make the difference. It is when all of these factors couple with training that regular results stream in.

So instead of blaming all and sundry, we need to create a sports science centre with world class experts who can properly take care of our athletes legally. Surely, we can't have them using their own judgement in matters way above their level of understanding.

The writer is an administrator at the Mittal Champions Trust