Representative Image.(Getty Images)
Representative Image.(Getty Images)

No dope testing at country’s premier athletics championships

Despite it’s importance as a tournament where many athletes will be trying to hit the qualification mark for the World Championships in September, there was no dope testing at the meet.
By Sharad Deep | Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UPDATED ON AUG 27, 2019 11:40 PM IST

The opening day of the 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships on Tuesday witnessed the fallout from the suspension of NDTL, India’s sole anti-doping lab, by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

Despite it’s importance as a tournament where many athletes will be trying to hit the qualification mark for the World Championships in September, there was no dope testing at the meet.

The Athletics Federation of India as well as the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) had confirmed that there would be a NADA team on hand to collect samples, but no one turned up.

“A NADA team, comprising three scientists and two officials, was coming today, but did not,” Uttar Pradesh Athletics Association secretary PK Srivasava said minutes before the end of the first day’s proceedings. “We had already made arrangements for special rooms for sample collection within the stadium premises here.”

Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials were supposed to provide sample collection kits to the NADA team after NDTL’s suspension.

“We were supposed to hand over the kits to them but no one turned up today,”a SAI official said. “We have not been informed of any further development either.”

A top national-level coach, who did not wish to be named, said that NADA’s absence was “an open invitation for athletes to take banned substances.”

“When every athlete knows they will not be tested at such an important event, they are free to do whatever they want,” he said.

The Inter State Athletics Championships at Guwahati in June last year saw NADA introducing targeted testing and collecting around 60 samples, of which six tested positive. Two athletes, while four others, who had come out “clean” during the NADA tests, tested positive when their urine samples were retested at the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal in November last year.

NADA’s director general Navin Agarwal didn’t sound confident about the arrival of a team.

“Today there was no team,” he said. “I cannot say anything about tomorrow.”

However, chairman of training and development committee of the AFI, Lalit Bhanot, said this wasn’t a big issue as all the athletes at national camps were being tested at regular intervals.

“The athletes in the camp get tested almost four times in a month,” he said. “But for sure the suspension of the NDTL laboratory has a big impact on Indian sport. Now the fear of being tested is gone.”

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