Coaches of athletes who are caught doping will be sanctioned too: AFI - Hindustan Times
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Coaches of athletes who are caught doping will be sanctioned too: AFI

ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi
May 17, 2024 10:06 PM IST

AFI chief Sumariwalla said the decision was taken after talking to various stakeholders for six months

With cases of doping in Indian athletics on a rise, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has brought in a policy to punish coaches of athletes who are sanctioned for doping.

Doping, conceptual illustration.(Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)
Doping, conceptual illustration.(Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)

AFI said athletes will be asked to name their coaches who will also have to register with the federation, and if they are caught and punished for doping, the federation will suspend the coaches.

"All coaches including NIS diploma holders will have to register with AFI and athletes will have to mention the names of their respective coaches while also filing their dope control forms. It is also decided that if an athlete is caught and a sentence is given to the athlete, the coach will also get a similar sentence from the federation. The coach will be responsible," said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla, explaining the recent policy cleared by the executive committee.

"The whole issue of doping has gone beyond control and it's high time that people are called out and action taken against them," he said.

He said AFI will recommend the respective government departments to take action against such coaches.

"We will ban the coach and we will inform (the departments) -- Army, Navy, Air Force, SAI. We are already working with all these people and they should be suspended. We will not let such coaches enter the stadium, accompany any team. We are working with state governments so that such coaches can be removed for their posts. The government is taking a very strong stand because if we have to host the Olympics, we will have to fight this menace of doping," he said.

The AFI chief said the decision was taken after talking to various stakeholders for six months.

The World Anti Doping Agency Code has provisions of sanction for "assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity or attempted complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation."

"Those who are involved in doping Athletes or covering up doping should be subject to sanctions which are more severe than the Athletes who test positive," as per the WADA code.

It also says that "a national or international federation could refuse to renew the license of a coach when multiple athletes have committed anti-doping rule violations while under that coach’s supervision."

Coach Amrish Kumar says that a coach should be punished only if it can be established that he has assisted the athlete in doping.

"You cannot just suspend a coach because the athlete has been caught and punished for doping. The athletes are smart today and they have nutritionists, physios and so many people around them. How can you hold a coach responsible?" asks Amrish, who has trained India's top steeplechaser Avinash Sable.

"If you can find in an inquiry that the coach is responsible then you can go ahead and punish him. Also, will AFI punish the foreign coaches?" asked Amrish.

Delhi's chief coach Dinesh Rawat, however, feels it is a good step.

"AFI has spoken to the coaches before coming out with this policy and you need some firm steps to curb doping. The coach knows about the performance curve of an athlete. If it shows any unusual trend, he can choose not to sign on as the coach of the athlete and report to the federation," he says.

Decentralisation of training

AFI president Sumariwalla said that from 2025 the national competitions will see a change in format.

"We are decentralising the coaching camp after the Paris Olympics. The format of the way the teams will come in to participate in national meets will change. Odisha, SAI NCOEs, Reliance, JSW, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc those will be the centres where athletes will train. We are also taking to the states to have regional centres.

"Only in the Inter-state meet the athletes will have to come through states. In other competitions they will come through these centres where they are training like Odisha, JSW, ASI Pune etc," he said.

Sumariwalla said the Paris Olympics bound athletes will attend a coaching camp in Poland from July 5 and move into the Paris Games Village on July 28.

AFI has also roped in a new kitting partner in PUMA. "We will also have a new logo," he said.

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