Uncertainty over testing measures at inter-State meet

The suspension of India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) by the international anti-doping body has led to uncertainty over monitoring of the upcoming 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships.

AFI treasurer and secretary of the UP Athletics Association P.K. Srivastava told Sportstar that a five-member NADA team, comprising three scientists and two officials, would reach the city only on August 28, the second day of the competition. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)   -  Getty Images

The suspension of India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) by the international anti-doping body has led to uncertainty over monitoring of the upcoming 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships starting here on Tuesday and a threat of doping looming large on the meet.

The four-day event was set to be the final qualifying meet for the World Championships later this year, but the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has brought forward the sixth leg of the Indian Grand Prix (September 5), for an additional qualifying opportunity.

READ: WADA suspends India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory

And with the batch of elite quartermilers still training overseas and unlikely to participate here, the presence of NADA officials to collect enough samples for testing remains doubtful even as hopefuls in other events try to achieve the Worlds qualifying marks.

AFI treasurer and secretary of the UP Athletics Association P.K. Srivastava told Sportstar that a five-member NADA team, comprising three scientists and two officials, would reach the city only on August 28, the second day of the competition. Those participating or winning in events on the opening day — which will see nine finals including women’s 200m, discus throw and the 4x400 mixed relay — will therefore not be tested immediately.

Cost no worries

The AFI also admitted it was worried about the costs. “Yes, NADA team is coming to Lucknow for the inter-state championship. But NDTL’s suspension for six months is a big worry also as we need to test athletes before the World Championship and we are also in a fix as to who will foot the bill for testing outside India,” Srivastava added.

NADA officials, too, did not commit themselves to a comprehensive presence and monitoring of the entire meet. NADA Director General Navin Aggarwal reiterated the organisation’s commitment to anti-doping, but did not confirm presence all through. “We will be testing all the top athletes and all important events at the competition. We will try to cover all major events. Maybe we will be able to do it before competition or we can do it towards the end of the competition. We can test them even after the competition, there is no issue,” he claimed.

Read | NDTL losing accreditation, a setback for NADA

“We will have to prioritise events and look at them in order of importance. We are trying to work it out. All events with international value and all tournaments with important participation will be covered. Only, the number of samples collected may be lesser than usual because we will have to arrange their safekeeping and process sending them to another Asian lab for testing,” Aggarwal added, but did not explain how NADA would prioritise events.