Syringes in toilet, track raise doping concerns at Federation Cup athletics meet
Indian athletics is constantly hit by positive dope tests, but a top federation official blames the National Anti Doping Agency for not being pro-active in testing.Updated: Mar 06, 2018 20:27 IST
On a day when two elite athletes made the cut for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Federation Cup meet, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was flooded with news of disposable syringes found in the washroom of the men’s hostel.
In fact, this correspondent saw syringes lying on the warm up track at the National Institute of Sports, venue of the meet and hub for the national preparatory camps for international competitions.
AFI secretary general CK Valson confirmed the syringes had been found, but said it was difficult to catch the culprits. “The lucky guys get away while some get caught,” he said. “The government should have big budget for testing; that’s the only way to check the menace of doping. Otherwise, it’s difficult.”
The AFI blames the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA), claiming it lacks interest in discouraging athletes from taking performance enhancing drugs. NADA dope testing officials were absent on the first day of competition on Monday despite the meet being a qualifying event for the Gold Coast CWG. “Some athletes, including Seema Punia, were not tested despite achieving the CWG mark. It’s not the fault of the federation, the government has to be more proactive,” Valson said.
“NADA dope testing officials were present today, but there was no random tests done. Only gold medallists were being tested. That will not help the cause. In my view, all finalists should be tested. Half of them might run away or will fail dope tests. That’s the only way to check doping in athletics,” he said.
The senior AFI official didn’t deny athletes were doping, but expressed helplessness in rooting out the scourge. “When the athletes get caught, they aren’t cooperative and don’t disclose the source of banned drugs,” he said, adding sometimes it’s difficult to point fingers at the coaches attached to the national camp.
A fluctuating performance graph is another worry for AFI. It’s correlated with banned drugs. “NADA has more than 40 athletes in the Registered Testing Pool, but I am not sure all the athletes are being regularly tested. Under the RTP, athletes should have been tested once or twice in November followed by a few tests in December and January. That will surely help check the doping issue. Otherwise, the cat-and-mouse game,” he added.