AFI to closely monitor athletes outside national camps

Two teams formed to implement the federation’s ‘no-needle policy’.

Anju Bobby George, the country’s lone senior World Championships medallist, has played a big part with her suggestions to the AFI on how to tackle non-campers who come up with head-spinning performances in crucial meets.   -  K.R. Deepak

For the last few years, athletes training in secret locations who pop up in selection meets and book National team berths for major championships have often put the Athletics Federation of India in a dilemma. And they often disappoint in major Games.

The National body has now decided to keep a close watch on athletes who are training outside national camps to see what they are up to.

Anju Bobby George, the country’s lone senior World Championships medallist, has played a big part with her suggestions to the AFI on how to tackle non-campers who come up with head-spinning performances in crucial meets.

“If coaches of State associations feel that somebody, junior or senior, is genuinely talented, they should inform the AFI. Once this is done, even though they are not in the National camp, they will be under the AFI’s watch list,” Anju, who attended the AFI’s AGM in New Delhi  as a special invitee, told Sportstar on Wednesday.

“It will be almost as if they are in the National camp, the AFI will also be aware of their whereabouts and the NADA can test them whenever it wants. The federation will also have a chance to observe their training pattern and understand why some are peaking only in selection meets.”

Anju headed the committee, formed by the AFI and which included Chief National Coach Bahadur Singh, to study the issue and also regarding the issue of non-campers who are fighting for spots in the National 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.

More control

“Actually, I’m in three committees and the AFI has accepted and approved my report. Under the new rules, the AFI will have more control over its athletes,” said Anju.

“It will also be in line with the IAAF’s rules which reward consistency in performances for World Championships and Olympics berths under its new qualification system.”

For the relays, the AFI has now decided that even if athletes are training in other smaller National camps, they should join the main camp during the final phase.

“After the final trials, once they qualify, they will have to come to the main camp under coach Galina Bukharina (for quartermilers). Because it is a team event and also because the relay team has been disqualified a few times in the last few major meets for one reason or the other,” said Anju.

In a major decision at the AGM, the AFI has formed two teams — headed by M.K. Pathak and Sandeep Mehta — to implement its ‘no-needle policy’. These teams will search the athletes and coaches during National championships.

But one source said the AFI is also studying the legal issues that could crop up with such a rule. Calls to AFI Secretary C.K. Valson, for more clarity on the issue, went unanswered.