AFI prepares ‘no-needle policy’ to deal with errant athletes, support staff

If implemented, it will be the first instance of such a sanction used by a national federation.

Adille Sumariwalla says the AFI has the authority to award punishments.   -  Getty Images

The Athletics Federation of India has drawn up a policy that proposes a maximum ban of two years on athletes caught using or possessing needles and injection vials. If implemented, it will be the first instance of such a sanction used by a national federation.

“We have drawn up a detailed ‘no-needle policy’ which has been circulated to the athletes, coaches, other support staff and even to the public for comments and feedbacks. We will study all these comments/feedbacks and will draw up a final ‘no-needle policy’,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told PTI.

“The final ‘No Needle Policy’ when drawn up, will be signed by all the athletes, coaches, support staff in the national camps and outside the camps also,” he added.

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The policy is likely to be begun to be implemented within the next two months.

Outside purview of government agency

Under the policy, athletes in the national camp, or in-competition, or at other non-competition venues violating the policy will be suspended from domestic and international competitions for a period of three months. For a second violation, the suspension will be of one year; a subsequent breach will attract a two-year ban.

Sumariwalla said the implementation of the policy and the handing of the punishments will have no connection with any government agency. “The AFI has the power and authority under its constitution to implement the ‘No Needle Policy’ and award punishments. It is outside what government agencies (NADA) may do. An aggrieved athlete may go to the Court of Arbitration for Sports or to a court of law,” the AFI president said.

Under the policy, athletes violating its rules will be suspended from domestic and international competitions for a period of three months. Photo: Getty Images/istockphoto

 

The policy also has provision for punishments for the support staff. In case any syringe, or needle, or injection vial — used for unused — is found in the room or baggage of the support staff (except medically qualified practitioners), the first violation will attract removal from the camp for one year.

In case of subsequent violation, the personnel will be removed from the national camp for life.

‘No justification’ for injection

A three-member committee — headed by chief coach Bahadur Singh — will be empowered to search the rooms of the athletes and support staff. The other two members of the committee will be deputy chief coach P. Radhakrishnan Nair, and chief coach (juniors) Sanjay Garnaik.

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Under the policy, injections will only be permitted when there is a clinically justified reason as determined by the AFI Medical Commission. “There is no justification for any athlete (except those with an established clinical condition requiring auto-injection and a valid Therapeutic Use Exemptions), a coach or any other non-medically qualified person to administer an injection,” the draft policy stated.