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SAI lags in race against dope

Two of India?s top wrestlers, Mukesh Khatri and Rohit Patel, are in the dope net, reports Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 12:26 IST

The Indian dope trick has got even more shocking. Two of the country’s top wrestlers, Mukesh Khatri and Rohit Patel, are in the dope net.

With the Doha Asian Games just round the corner, this could turn out to be a big embarrassment for India.

Khatri, the 55kg Greco-Roman wrestler, has tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid epimethandiol while the 93kg freestyle wrestler Patel was found with a high testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 4:1 in his blood.

Khatri, who represented the country at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, has until October 28 to apply for the analysis of his ‘B’ sample, after which a decision would be taken on penalising him. As for Patel, he has until November to apply for the ‘B’ sample analysis, when the IRMS system will be functioning at the Dope Control Centre (DCC) at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in the Capital.

What’s really shocking about the episode is the fact that the samples of the grapplers were taken in Patiala during out-of-competition testing on September 14, much before their departure for the World Championships in Guangzhou, China, and the results came in after they landed back in the country on September 29.

Had the two been caught in a random check at Guangzhou, it would have been a much bigger embarrassment for the country.

The episode also proves the worthlessness of the Sports Authority of India’s pre-departure dope testing; the results of the tests must be announced before the athletes leave Indian shores, so that no embarrassment is caused on the international stage.

In this case, the athletes travelled all the way to China and found about the positive results only on their return! While the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not encourage pre-departure testing as, according to them, it amounts to a state-sponsored doping programme, the Indian Government does it to avoid discomfiture on the big stage.

Khatri’s name has been struck off the national camp roster for the Asian Games pending his ‘B’ sample result, while Patel would be allowed to attend the camp till his IRMS test is done.

Asked to comment on the delay in the announcement of the results, PC Kashyap, SAI’s Executive Director (Teams), said: “I am unaware of any positive dope test as I have joined only yesterday … If it has happened, it is bad.” The project officer in charge of dope related offences, Ashwini Kumar, said since the SAI dope lab is overburdened, it is not able to give the results on time.

Come to think of it, India is striving for a WADA-accredited lab before the Commonwealth Games, and the SAI hasn’t got even the basic means to give the results on time.

First Published: Oct 18, 2006 12:26 IST