Some of the country’s top players, including medal-winners, flunked dope tests during the recently concluded Jharkhand National Games held from February 12 to 26.
A top official of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), on condition of anonymity, said at least seven top competitors in various disciplines tested positive for banned substances.
In rowing there are two positive cases, while there is one each in cycling and taekwondo. In track and field events, the number is three.
The athletes' B-samples are yet to be analysed, after which the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) will inform the respective federations.
The number of dope cheats, the top official said, could go up as analysis of samples is still on.
In the last National Games held in Guwahati in 2007, the number of dope offenders was eight, including medal-winners from the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
During the Jharkhand Games, NADA had collected more than 30 urine samples. For analysis, NADA had sent it to Delhi’s National Dope Testing Laboratory.
Midway through the Games, reports trickled down that a large number of empty vials and disposable syringes was found on the premises of the Ganpat Rai indoor stadium, the venue for wrestling, taekwondo and gymnastics.
SM Hashmi, the secretary-general of the Jharkhand Olympic Association, denied any wrongdoing by the competitors, but coaches associated with various disciplines thought otherwise. “Generally, use of disposal syringes by competitors is common practice in almost all national level meets,” a coach told HT on condition of anonymity.