Crackdown on dope cheats, NADA launches Athletes Biological Passport
The National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADA) decision to launch the Athletes Biological Passport (ABP) to monitor biological parameters of individuals over a period a time --- that may reveal the effects of doping on their bodies --- is being seen as major step to crack down on dope cheats in the country.
ABP data could be used to conduct specific anti-doping tests on athletes with abnormal profiles. To begin with, NADA has registered 20 top athletes from various Olympics disciplines, including track and field.
The project, according to NADA director general Navin Aggarwal, is part of the government’s anti-doping programme. “The list will continue to grow and by Tokyo 2020, we should have all the members of the Indian contingent under the ABP programme,” he said.
It has been almost nine years since the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) approved the ABP-operating guidelines and revised them in January 2014, with the aim to identify athletes for target testing. In India, however, it got delayed due to one reason or the other. NADA was supposed to start ABP before the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, but the plan got delayed.
At the international level, several big names, including Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin, the former Olympic 1500m champion, have been banned on the basis of abnormal ABP profiles.
Aggarwal believes the launch of ABP will discourage athletes from taking banned substances. “In the long run, it will help nab culprits,” he added.
NADA’s initiative to launch ABP is being seen as major effort to clean up sport, but the reduction in the number of track and field athletes in Registered Testing Pool (RTP) is giving sleepless nights to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta.
NADA had shortlisted more than 50 top athletes for domestic testing pool In the buildup to the Rio Olympic Games. But the number has been reduced by half for the May-July quarter. Of the 113 sportspersons shortlisted, only 25 are from athletics.
An athlete under the RTP has to furnish his/her whereabouts details for out-of-competition testing and should be available at a particular location for “no advance notice” testing during a one-hour window.
AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said that ideally the pool for athletics should be more than 100 because out-of-competition testing is crucial in the fight against doping. “Since many top athletes don’t attend the camp and aren’t regularly tested, reducing the number in RTP will encourage athletes to take a shortcut,” he said.
However, Aggarwal said, he isn’t looking at the numbers because the core issue is to check the menace of doping. “Certain parameters, including performance in international events, are taken into consideration when compiling a new list of registered testing pool,” he said.