The outstanding performance of Indian athletes in the Commonwealth and Asian Games has attracted some ‘unwanted’ attention.
Even though most of them are not among the top-30 in the world in their disciplines, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the ruling body for the sport, has decided to include them in their registered testing pool. It is learnt, that IAAF has asked the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to inform Asian Games medallists to update their whereabouts from January 2011.
They will now have to regularly update their whereabouts for one hour every day so that they could be tested at the discretion of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) officials. Failure to be available for a test at the time specified by the athlete himself is considered as a missed test. Three such infringements would constitute a doping violation and attract an automatic two-year suspension.
The IAAF attention is a double-edged sword for Indian athletes considering past attempts by some of them to avoid the dope testing officials from WADA by doing a vanishing act from camps. The Suresh Sathya case reinforces the need for extra attention from IAAF.
However, not everybody is worried. Varinder Poonia, former international athlete and the husband as well as coach of Krishan Poonia, winner of gold in Delhi Commonwealth games and the only Indian presently in the registered pool, looks at the development as a positive sign. “It’s good to be on the IAAF radar, it keeps you alert and you don’t inadvertently take any medicine that could invite trouble. The habit pays off as the chances for an incidental intake close to competition just vanish,” he said.
Despite their good recent results in the Commonwealth as well as Asian Games, too many Indian athletes aren’t going to be in the top-30. But, IAAF has decided to keep an eye on them due to the sudden spurt in their performance in the Asian Games.
Earlier, as many as 30 top Indian athletes were included in the whereabouts system in the 2005-06 season and had to undergo frequent tests.
However, some of them managed to give officials the slip by disappearing from camps – like in December 2005 when they rushed back home from a camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa — after allegedly getting wind of impending visits by WADA testers.
Though the IAAF and WADA attention would be a hassle, top hurdler Joseph Abraham said only those who are not clean should be worrying: “I have never faced problem with the WADA officials, it should be a worry only for those who are cheating. Indian athletics should welcome this move.”