With less than two months to go for the Rio Olympics, at least two top throwers, Seema Antil Punia and Inderjit Singh, are learnt to be shying away from sharing training and residential details with National Anti Doping Agency (NADA), the body responsible for testing athletes for doping violations.
Seema will compete in women’s discus while Inderjit has qualified in the shot put event for Rio. The duo is among 40 athletes shortlisted by NADA for its registered testing pool, but the agency doesn’t have proper whereabouts details for random out-of-competition testing.
A top Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official said, “Under the NADA registered testing pool of 40, some athletes were tested at least four-five times, while over half-a-dozen of them were not tested at all.”
AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said the federation regularly asks athletes to send in their whereabouts details to NADA and it was up to that body to take any action. “We send reminders to athletes on a regular basis to comply with the NADA code. If the athletes are not sharing details, it is up to NADA to take action or let the athletes off the hook. In this case, the federation can’t be held responsible for supporting the athletes.”
Seema, it is learnt, has been avoiding NADA since January this year. Inderjit, who hails from Bhiwani, Haryana, too has been avoiding the agency for around the same time.
After winning gold at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, Seema maintained a low profile in 2015, and wasn’t tested. But she regained fitness recently and clinched the Rio berth at a throwing competition at Hartnell, California. After her podium finish, it is learnt, there has been no doping test.
After a successful 2014 season, apart from winning silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games exploits, Seema didn’t attend the national camp in 2015. She, however, trained in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, and then flew off to the US for advanced training and competition.
What is intriguing is that Seema, in the buildup to Rio, hasn’t shortlisted the competitions she will compete in. Her training abroad is being funded by the government’s Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS).
A Sports Authority of India (SAI) official familiar with athletics said, “Seema is still in the process of spotting competitions to sharpen her skills before Rio. She has expressed desire to compete in Europe and Russia.”
On the other hand, Inderjit was consistent in almost all the events he participated in. But a shoulder injury early this year, during a five-month training stint in the US, had upset his training rhythm, and he withdrew from the February 6-15 SAF Games in Guwahati.
On his return from the US, the shot putter failed to impress in the Federation Cup meet in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at the end of April.
His next major competition will be the Inter-state championship in Hyderabad in the last week of June.
HARKIRAT FAILS DOPE TEST
Leading woman shot putter Harkirat Kaur of Punjab has failed a dope test. Silver medallist in the Federation Cup athletics meet in April, Harkirat has been provisionally suspended pending a hearing. The gold was won by international thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon with a throw of 15.25m. Harkirat was second at 14.37m.