With 62 athletes serving doping suspensions, India only behind Russia in drug abuse

Kamalpreet Kaur’s sporting discipline, the discus throw, is one of the least impacted by doping scandals.

Doping in sports: Tokyo Olympics discus throw finalist Kamalpreet Kaur was banned for three years for doping with an anabolic steroid, track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (File Photo)

Doping in sports: Tokyo Olympics discus throw finalist Kamalpreet Kaur was banned for three years for doping with an anabolic steroid, track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Kamalpreet Kaur’s sporting discipline, the discus throw, is one of the least impacted by doping scandals.

Kamalpreet Kaur, the 26-year-old Indian discus thrower, was banned for three years with effect from March 29 after she tested positive for a prohibited substance earlier this year.

With Kaur, 62 Indian athletes are currently serving suspensions for anti-doping rule violations, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics. Only Russia has more athletes under suspension than India with 87 receiving sanctions.

Chart 1 shows the nationalities of the 473 violators recorded by the AIU.

Hover over the charts to find the exact figures

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With Kaur’s infraction, the number of Indian women with doping violations has gone up to 17. However, over 70 per cent of all doping violations in India were by men. This share decreases to 60 per cent if all the world athletes are considered.  Chart 2 shows the gender-wise split of doping violations in India and the world.

India is joint 6th in list of doping violations: WADA report

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Interestingly, Kaur’s sporting discipline (discus throw) is among the least impacted by doping scandals. The world over, most doping violations are by long-distance runners. Globally, close to 33 per cent of all violations were by long-distance runners, 23 per cent by short-distance sprinters and 10 per cent by middle-distance runners. All the other disciplines including games involving throws and jumps formed less than five per cent of violations.  Chart 3 shows the discipline-wise split of doping violations the world over. The number of violations by Indian athletes is also annotated in the graph. Four Indian long-distance runners have been caught doping. But with 21 violations, short-distance runners stand out. In total, runners formed about half the Indian doping violations.

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This is Kaur’s first anti-doping rule violation. Notably, the infraction carries a punishment of four years, but was reduced to three as Kaur admitted to doping within 20 days of receiving the notice.  Chart 4 shows the punishments received by athletes the world over for doping violations. The corresponding number for Indian athletes is annotated in the graph. Close to 56 per cent of athletes got a four-year ban. The share of such athletes increases to 83 per cent if only Indian athletes are considered.

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Thirty-six athletes globally have got lifetime bans. Only one such instance has been listed for India. Hammer thrower Jitender Singh was banned for life after testing positive a second time.

Kaur’s sample tested positive for Stanozolol metabolites. Stanozolol is a prohibited substance under the WADA 2022 prohibited list. According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Stanozolol is a “synthetic steroid that is derived from testosterone and has anabolic and androgenic properties”.  Chart 5 shows the substances used by doping violators the world over. Stanozolol is the most used substance by Indian athletes, with seven being caught using or in possession of the drug.

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*Biological variables reveal effects of doping. The detection of substance becomes unnecessary

However, EPO is the most commonly used drug the world over, with over 41 athletes getting caught using it. The USADA defines EPO as a “part of a class of substances called Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents.” It is commonly used for “kidney failure, chemotherapy, and other medical conditions involving red blood cell loss and anaemia.” The organisation says that EPO increases red blood cell mass and allows transportation of more oxygen to muscles increasing stamina and performance.

The figures in Chart 5 will not add up to the total number of doping violations as many athletes evade, refuse or fail to submit the samples; some even tamper with them. It also does not include those who used a combination of two drugs.

The analysis only includes those athletes listed in the AIU database.

Source: Athletics Integrity Unit

(This story was originally published in The Hindu on October 26, 2022 and data as on October 25, 2022)

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