A workshop arranged by the National Anti-Doping Agency at Khelo India Youth Games will educate the participants about doping check procedures during competition and the after-effects of performance-enhancers. Attendance is mandatory.

The workshop, at Balewadi stadium’s 10m shooting range, aims to keep the young athletes aware of the reason for keeping a safe distance from performance-enhancing substances and reduce anxiety about dope-testing.

Dr C S Jayaprakash, ex- Director, Sports Authority of India (Sports Medicine), one of three speakers at the workshop, said: “Dope testing is an accepted part of sport. We try to give basic information to make young sportspersons aware of the dangers, at the same time ensure they don’t run away from dope testing.”

He added: “We have examples around us, like Maria Sharapova, who was punished for something in her system. It may not have been taken consciously, but faced the consequences. The U-17 athletes assembled here for Khelo India are of the right age to get educated on doping, so (that) they get the strength to say no.”

Mandatory attendance for KIYG competitors is designed to make young minds look at the issue with the seriousness it deserves. Indian sport has been shamed by doping controversies frequently in the past. “The participation certificates is to make them feel good for taking time from preparation to come here,” he added.

Dr. P. S. M. Chandran (also ex-Director, SAI), Dr Bhupendra Singh and Dr. Jayaprakash, in turn would answer athletes’ queries. “We are available here from 10am to 4pm daily, till January 15”

Sharapova may be a faraway controversy, but Indian sport has reality to deal with. Last year, syringes were found in sportspersons room at Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast despite having a strict ‘no-syringe policy’. Rio Olympics probable Narsingh Yadav accused a team-mate of spiking his food after a positive dope test.

Advised by coaches and pushed by parents, incentives towards progress is high for sportspersons. Cash awards are on offer for special talent at district/state/national level, plus rewards for personal coaches.

It is tempting to look at shortcuts, so “catching them young” at KIYG is a prod to stay clean. Compulsory dope test by NADA for medalists, others picked at random, is on here at Balewadi complex.