National Anti Doping Agency targets 7,000 tests, does less than half
At the start of 2017, the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) called for a robust monitoring system and announced plans to test 7,000 athletes during the next year. However, with the 2017-18 financial year nearing the home stretch, India’s anti-doping watchdog is well short of achieving the target.
As per the statistics of World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in New Delhi, the number of tests carried out from April to December is only 2,667. The figures have been posted on the NDTL website.
The drastically fewer tests would only encourage competitors to take the short cut, according to Ashok Ahuja, a sports medicine expert. “For a successful anti-doping programme, it’s important to put constant pressure on players. Otherwise, one odd test in a year will be as good as not testing at all,” he said.
India is far from becoming a leading medal nation, but ranked a shocking third in WADA’s global anti-doping violation figures between 2013-2015.
In 2016, three top track and field athletes bound for the Rio Olympics – shot-putter Inderjeet Singh, sprinter Dharambir Singh and women’s 400m runner Priyanka Panwar failed dope tests. To clean the system, the Niti Aayog had in April last year announced that NADA should test over 5,000 athletes in 2017-18.
NADA, in fact, pushed the number to 7,000. To achieve its goal, the National Sports Federations were asked to share their annual calendars. The focus was on athletics, weightlifting, boxing, cycling and football, all seen as more doping-prone.
However, NADA director-general, Navin Agarwal, didn’t respond to repeated calls and text messages to seek its views.
Initially, NADA had planned to test seniors and conduct awareness campaigns for the juniors and youth groups.
According to NDTL statistics, in April, 2017, NADA conducted 742 tests. However, the figures subsequently declined. It was 119 in December. Adille Sumariwala, president of the Athletics Federation of India, said NADA should double its tests, particularly out-of-competition. “Those attending the camp are subjected to testing, but athletes training outside are not. If tests are done once a year, it will be meaningless,” he said.
Recently, union sports minister RVS Rathore said five regional anti-doping centres will be set up to eradicate doping.
On Sunday, NADA inspectors skipped the national cross country meet, held in Goa. Over 600 athletes took part. “It was a selection trial for the upcoming Asian cross country,” an AFI official said. No tests were carried out in the Open National Athletics Meet in Chennai in September, or the All India Inter University Athletics meet at Guntur in December.