Even as the sports ministry’s task force begins the exercise to spot potential medal winners for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games, they better keep a watch on the National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADA) January newsletter, which reveals that more athletes at the grassroots are taking shortcut to fame.
At least three dope cheats named in the newsletter --- and facing provisional suspension --- are from schools and colleges.
Salim, a college-level high jumper, failed dope test during the 2016 edition of the Delhi University inter-college competition in December. An outstanding performance could have helped him earn a place in the university team for the All India Inter Varsity.
Teenage shot-putter Jashanpreet Kaur was caught doping during the 19th CBSE national athletic meet in January last year, hinting that drugs are becoming increasingly common at grassroots level.
According to Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official, Arun Mehdiratta (head of the medical panel) winning gold in the CBSE meet doesn’t ensure one a place in the Indian team. “Why fringe athletes are taking drugs intrigues me.”
Some athletes are even taking drugs at the state level. Take for example young thrower Smritkhana Mana from West Bengal who failed a dope test during the state meet last May in Kolkata. All three athletes could end up being banned for four years.
Last year, among the 80-odd athletes who failed dope tests, 20 were school and college-going.
With the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) cutting down on testing in top national competitions, there is the likelihood that low-key events such as the CBSE and state-level competitions will get even lesser attention.
NADA took just five urine samples during the 65th All India Police volleyball cluster meet at Visakhapatnam (December, 2016). Four samples were collected during the All India Police hockey championship in Jammu (December, 2016).
Besides, only 12 players were tested during the hockey junior World Cup at Lucknow in December, an abysmal number considering the level of competition.