Asiad bound steeplechase runner Naveen Dagar tests positive

Dagar, the bronze-medallist from the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, tested positive for banned substance meldonium during the Inter-State Athletics Meet in Guwahati.

Dagar is a bronze-medallist from the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and breached the qualifying mark of 8:41 seconds during the Guwahati meet.   -  FACEBOOK/NAVEEN DAGAR

The Indian athletics contingent’s preparation for the upcoming Asian Games was served with a huge blow after 3000m steeple-chaser Naveen Dagar tested positive for a banned substance. Naveen won a bronze at the last Asiad in Incheon in 2014.

The news comes in after javelin thrower Amit Kumar failed a dope test in the national camp for throwers in Finland a few days ago.

READ| Javelin thrower Amit Kumar tests positive, suspended by AFI

“Naveen’s test, taken at the inter-State Nationals, has come positive, he is in Bhutan now (the national camp for distance runners is on there) and he has been asked to come back,” said an AFI official.

“His name has now been removed from the Asian Games team. But he was not a national camper when he was tested at Guwahati, he joined the national camp only after the inter-state meet,” added the official.

Naveen had broken his own meet record at Guwahati, clocking 8:39.42s, and made the cut for the Asiad (AFI’s qualification guideline 8:41.40s).

Manpreet Kaur, who won the women’s shot put gold at the last Asian championships in Bhubaneswar, had tested positive at the Asian Grand Prix in China last year and two years ago, another prominent shot putter Inderjeet Singh – a bronze medallist at the last Asian Games – tested positive in an out-of-competition event before the Rio Olympics.

WADA hot on Indians’ trail

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) probably feels that the impressive timings returned by Indian athletes in the last few months are not genuine.

Eleven athletes in the national camp for the 400m, relay and the hurdles at Jablonec near Prague in the Czech Republic were tested by WADA on Sunday. The athletes are preparing for the Asiad under Russia-born American coach Galina Bukharina.

“Eleven athletes, including seven women, were tested by WADA,” said a national camper from Prague on Thursday evening. “Hima Das (the new under-20 400m World champion) was one of them.”

The choice of venues for the national relays camp has raised a lot of doubt and worry among close followers of athletics. The quartermilers had been to Poland and many of them posted mediocre timings when they returned to the country for the Inter-State Nationals in Guwahati. And there have been instances of athletes going missing for months, evading dope testers.

Out-of-competition testing is the key to catching athletes who take banned drugs and though the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) appears to be going slow on this, the WADA seems to have taken special interest on the Indians after their record-breaking timings in recent meets.