Rising cases of doping by athletes, shockingly by even juniors in the Khelo India Games, has once again put the focus back on this menace. The sports fraternity is appalled at the cases where athletes have been assisted by coaches in order to enhance their performance by using banned drugs.

India, third on the anti-doping list in 2007, had improved to a joint-seventh slot in 2016 but concerns remain about the number of young athletes taking to doping.

In December 1999, Sports Ministers from across the globe had expressed their concerns at the rise in doping in sports. They had made an appeal to all nations to take firm steps and arrest the menace. Rules were framed and adopted in 2005 and put into force in 2007 by the International Convention against Doping in Sport. It is regarded as the most successful convention in the history of UNESCO. It is the second-most ratified of all UNESCO treaties.

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Sadly, as sports lawyer Vidushpat Singhania observed, India has made little progress in this direction and anti-doping programmes continue to make little impact. “There is hardly any attention paid to educating athletes on anti-doping. The process of collecting the samples and sending them for testing is not done according to the procedures. The ignorance of athletes in understanding the anti-doping process is shocking. It is basically due to poor administration of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA),” Singhania asserted.

According to the noted sports lawyer, the “Federations were at fault” since they don't take precautions. “NADA is the main culprit and needs to be hauled up. Federations don't take action against coaches and the support staff guilty of misleading the athletes. Why just penalise the athlete? We don't believe in rehab either of the guilty athletes. I agree testing may have improved but efforts have to be made to educate the athletes on the harms of taking drugs,” he added.

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Singhania raised a pertinent point, “What's happened to the legislation to criminalise dope offenders? I am not sure if that is the right way forward. You can apply that to repeat offenders but let me tell you there is no budget for anti-doping.”

The government, however, is determined to take firm steps in this direction. The new Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has initiated a plan to take the anti-doping campaign to the youth. Rijiju told Sportstar , “The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is preparing to carry a big campaign to create awareness among athletes, coaches and parents on the negative health impact of doping and how it can end a promising career. Sports Authority of India has been organising anti-doping workshops in several centres and we will strengthen that.”