The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ‘Operation Carousel’ has exposed many flaws in the National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA) dope-testing and whereabouts monitoring system.
Now that it has also suggested corrective measures, what are national federations doing to clean up the sport of dope cheats?
The Athletics Federation of India has a strict no-needle policy at its national camps. And since it believes that it is easier to take illegal substances outside national camps, it has a rule that only national campers will be included in Indian relay teams for major championships.
That, however, has not stopped national campers from failing dope tests.
ANJALI TESTED ON DAY OF STUNNING RUN
Quartermiler Anjali Devi, a national camper who was lying low without competing in her main event for three and half years, suddenly showed up at the recent Bhubaneswar Inter-State Nationals and clocked the fastest time by an Indian woman this year (51.48s).
It soon became clear that it was not a ‘clean’ performance.
“Her sample was taken on June 16 (the day of her stunning Bhubaneswar run) and we were informed (about the result) in July,” said Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, in a chat with Sportstar from Paris.
Two other national campers, silver medallist shot putter at the Inter-State National Championship, Karanveer Singh, and female sprinter Archana Suseendran also tested positive recently in this Asian Games and World Championships year and are now under provisional suspension.
The AFI needs to do more to contain doping.
“So what should we do? Stop camps? How do we monitor...please explain, tell me the process,” asked Sumariwalla.
CAMPERS’ LIST SENDS CONFUSING SIGNALS
One felt the AFI should update its list of national campers at least every fortnight. Almost every campers’ list includes a few athletes who are not in the national camp.
Surprise out-of-competition testing is the most effective tool to catch cheats but the campers’ list is not of much help.
With NADA informing WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations department, which conducted Operation Carousel, that it now has an investigator and two intelligence staff, will it not be easier for testers to conduct surprise tests if an updated campers list is readily available?
“So what if it is an oversight (non-campers being on campers’ list)? It is updated every week with SAI and NADA,” revealed Sumriwalla. “How does it matter if it is on the AFI website and does not get changed on time? We are stretched for resources.”
Though World Athletics maintains a detailed website that lists almost every athlete’s performance chart, the performances in various State championships in India do not figure under athletes’ profiles from this year.
State meets could be a useful tool to monitor any surprise performance so it is important that these results are also included in athletes’ performance charts.
“They are to be displayed by individual states on their websites as per AFI norms,” said the federation chief.
And shouldn’t the federation try to find out from athletes the source of their illegal substances? And who supplies them?
“That is the job of NADA. To us, athletes say that they are innocent. We tried. They always deny they have taken anything,” said Sumariwalla.
“It is easy to talk and give advice. Resources in federations are limited. We have to make the best of what we have. We all work voluntarily. We give our time, energy and money to sports.”
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