Weightlifters lead the way

Old-timers may recall a few instances of suspected doping in Indian athletics...

KIRTI PATIL

Old-timers may recall a few instances of suspected doping in Indian athletics... like tales of what went on in the NIS, Patiala in the 60s and 70s or the flutter that a Kuwaiti thrower caused during the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi by accusing the Indians of doping.

Yourik Sarkisian of Australia, the gold winner, is flanked by India's Krishnan Madasamy, silver, (left) and Marcus Stephen of Naureu, bronze, after the 62-kg weightlifting event at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, on July 30, 2002. Later Madasamy was stripped of the medal when the doping test proved positive . — Pic. AP-

Suffice it to say, there were a few home-made recipes many athlete had for boosting their stamina or adding strength. The first known case of doping in Indian sports was however reported only in 1986 when three weightlifters tested positive at the Seoul Asian Games.

Steeplechaser Pyare Lal tested positive in the 1991 Asian championships in Kuala Lumpur and served a suspension, never to come back, and in 1994, junior athletes Shubhdeep Singh Mann and Jagbir Singh were banned by the IAAF following positives at the Asian junior championships in Jakarta.

Juniors continued to test positive at home and in 1997, the AAFI finally took some action against 17 of them as they were found to have used banned substances.

Here is a list of some of the prominent sportspersons who were caught in the past or are facing the music now:

Tara Singh, weightlifting: The 1982 New Delhi Asiad bronze medallist, four years later was to be the first confirmed case of doping in India. Before that, Tara had collected a slew of medals, both in national and international competitions. India hoped for yet another medal from Tara in the Seoul Asian Games, but he finished fifth with a total lift of 335 kg. Further disgrace came when in a random dope test his urine sample returned a positive test for a steroid. A two-year international ban followed, and he phased out of the weightlifting scene.

N. Kunjarani Devi, weightlifting: The star Indian woman lifter tested positive for the stimulant, strychnine, at the 2001 Asian championship in Jeon Ju, Korea. She was stripped of her two gold medals and a silver won in the 48kg category at the championships, and banned for six months by the International Weightlifting Federation. Kunjarani returned to action after serving the ban and went on to win the gold medal in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. In the same year, at Busan Asiad, she was way out of the medal's bracket. Early this month, Kunjarani won a gold medal in Commonwealth championship in Tonga.

Seema Antil, athletics: The discus thrower won the gold medal at the World Junior athletics championship at Santiago de Chile in October 2000. Seema's medal was taken back and she was issued public warning, after it was made known that she had tested positive for the stimulant, pseudoephedrine. The AAFI, however, had kept the positive test under wraps for about one year while it pursued at all ends in vain with the IAAF to seek leniency for Seema. In the 2003 World Juniors, Seema won the bronze medal.

Krishnan Madasamy and Satisha Rai, weightlifting: Both lifters tested positive in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games as India's already dodgy reputation took a beating. Yet another positive case in weightlifting could have forced the IWF to ban India from any international competition for a period of one year. Such was the apprehension about the possibility of getting caught that no male lifter was sent to compete in the Busan Asian Games.

Madasamy, who originally won the silver medal in the 62 kg class, tested positive for a nandrolone derivative and is still serving two-year suspension. He still contends his innocence and has not paid the fine, risking further delay in his comeback if not possible sanction from the IWF.

Satisha Rai had won the 77kg category in Manchester, but was stripped of his medals after his urine sample showed the stimulant, strychnine. He served a six- month ban, though he was allowed to compete nationally, paid the fine, and is back into competition. He recently won the Commonwealth championship gold in Tonga.

Jagdish Basak and Kavita Pandya, athletics: The sprinters of the current generation had a free run in the domestic events before the Hyderabad National Games brought out their wrongdoing.

Basak had won the gold medal in the 100m dash with a timing of 10.59 seconds, leading the race from the start to finish. The 22-year-old athlete now figures among the 22 dope positives found in the Hyderabad Games. Basak tested positive for nandrolone and was disqualified and banned for two years.

Kavita also tested positive for nandrolone, but is under a provisional suspension, pending a final decision in her case. The IOA ruled that she was guilty and disqualfied her. Kavita came to the limelight in the 2001 Punjab National Games, winning the 100m in 11.89 seconds. She continued her dominance in the domestic events before clinching the 100m in 11.79 seconds in the Hyderabad Games. The 23-year-old athlete is contemplating legal action.

Bhagya Rajan Deverdaran and Sandeep Kumar Jogu, boxing: Both Andhra boxers tested positive for steroids. Deverdaran was tested at random and his urine sample was found positive for the lesser known mesterolone. Jogu had won the silver and he tested positive for a stimulant (mephentermine) as well as a steroid (nandrolone)

The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) is yet to announce any sanctions on the two boxers. But, before it all came out in open the IABF had acted swiftly to bar the two pugilists from participating in this year's National championship, held in Delhi in March.

Laxman Singh: Bronze medallist at the Hyderabad National Games, Laxman tested positive for nandrolone in his first major competition since taking up rowing. The Punjab oarsman though feigns ignorance. The strict anti-doping rules of the FISA, the international body for rowing and sailing sports, has effectively put a full-stop to his career. For a first-time steroid offence FISA rules prescribe a life-ban.

Sumita Laha, powerlifting: She was the big name in World powerlifting before the steroid offence at home, in the 1991 World Women's powerlifting championship, shamed her career. Sumita had been world record holder in 75 kg squat category which was achieved in 1989. Following the steroid offence in the New Delhi World championship, she was stripped off her medal, the world record, and banned for two years. Sumita later turned to weightlifting, but could hardly impress.