Every now and then we come across the news of another professional athlete getting busted for performance-enhancing drugs. However, The National Anti-Doping Agency claims that India’s embarrassingly high ranking in the global doping violators’ list is expected to improve for the better.
NADA recently claimed that it has successfully tightened its monitoring system. In a statement issued, NADA said in the year gone by it conducted 151 tests. NADA said it has asked national federations to provide their annual calendars well in advance.
“In the year 2016, NADA in association with Sports Authority of India (SAI) & some National Sports Federations (NSFs) conducted as many as 52 anti-doping education and awareness programs in various part of India. These programs were targeted for sportspersons, young athletes, coaches and support staff,” it said. During 2016 as many as 3363 tests were conducted by NADA. Well planned mission orders have led to a significant in release in detection rate from 2.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent,” it added.
What exactly is “dope”?
Performance-enhancing drugs (PED), are substances that are used to improve any form of activity or performance in humans. A well-known example involves doping in sport, where banned physical performance–enhancing drugs are used by athletes and bodybuilders. Performance-enhancing drugs affect the body in different ways, such as enlarging muscles or increasing the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Despite these apparent benefits, the use of such drugs is considered both competitively unethical and medically dangerous. Most performance-enhancing drugs are outlawed by organisations that govern major amateur and professional sports.”
PED can be largely grouped as follows:
- Stimulants (amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, other sympathomimetic drugs).
- Anabolic-androgenic steroids (synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone).
- Human growth hormone.
Ironically, studies show that many of them don’t necessarily improve performance and might actually detract from the overall athletic function in the long run. Most of these drugs are outlawed by various athletic organisations and are available to the public only by prescription — something most athletes don’t have. However, in some way or the other these are acquired easily in the black market resulting in illegal usage by various athletes.
Few Indian doping offences over the years:
- 2000- Discus thrower Seema was stripped of her gold at the World Junior Championships.
- 2005- Discus throwers Anil and Neelam were handed two-year ban for testing positive.
- 2010- Shot putter Saurabh got a two-year ban for testing positive for banned stimulant.
- 2011- Sprinter Jauna Murmu tested positive for Methandienone and was given a two-year doping ban.
- 2014- India had the third highest Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) with 96 cases, behind Russia (148) and Italy (123), according to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report. In that, athletics contributed most dope cheats with 29 cases, followed by powerlifting (23) and weightlifting (22) as the trend of the last few years continued. Country was placed in the top three in a WADA report
- 2015- 21 weightlifters were provisionally suspended by the Indian Weightlifting Federation after they tested positive for banned substances. Punjab thrower Ketki Sethi was banned for eight years after she failed a dope test during the national meet in Patiala.
- 2016- wrestler Narsingh Yadav, shot putter Inderjeet Singh, 200m runner Dharambir Singh tested positive for a banned substance.
Around 687 athletes have been banned for doping-related offences since January 1, 2009, an average of 100 athletes being banned every year, as per National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) records.
During the year 2016 NADA tightened the monitoring system on top level athletes and a total of 151 tests were conducted in the Registered Testing Pool (RTP), the global list of world level athletes maintained by WADA, which was more than the number of such tests carried out in earlier years (148 tests in RTP done during 2015),” the NADA stated. Listing its programmes, NADA said it has been trying to reach out to as many athletes and coaches as possible to spread awareness.
An alarming doping increase reported in young athletes!
(NADA) January newsletter, revealed that many young upcoming athletes are taking shortcut to fame by cheating with dope out of which three named in the newsletter are from schools and colleges. Last year, among the 80-odd athletes who failed dope tests, 20 were school and college-going.
This included Salim, a college-level high jumper, of the Delhi University inter-college who failed dope test during the 2016 edition competition in December and Jashanpreet Kaur, a teenage shot-putter who was caught during the 19th CBSE national athletic meet in January 2016.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official, Arun Mehdiratta (head of the medical panel) is intrigued at fringe level athletes taking drugs because winning gold in the CBSE meet does not anyway ensure one a place in the Indian team.
Some athletes at the state level like young thrower Smritkhana Mana from West Bengal also failed a dope test during the state meet last May in Kolkata. All these athletes could end up being banned for four years.
NADA took just five urine samples during the 65th All India Police volleyball cluster meet at Visakhapatnam (December, 2016) with only four samples collected during the All India Police hockey championship in Jammu (December, 2016) and only 12 players tested during the Hockey Junior World Cup at Lucknow in December, considering the level of competition this number is not enough. By cutting down testing in top national competitions, low-key events such as the CBSE and state-level competitions will not get enough attention resulting in many offenders slipping away.
In the tentative test plan prepared for 2017, NADA is expected to test more than 4000 samples with an increase in the number for priority disciplines of athletics, weightlifting, boxing, cycling and football. “However, the focus has been that of targeted testing of high performers rather than underachievers, and also to avoid repeated testing of individual athletes over short periods,” it added.
“There’s still a need to make the athletes aware of the evils of doping. Parents and coaches must be made aware of the menace. That can help in checking use of banned substances,” former NADA chief Mukul Chatterjee told TOI in an interview in July 2016.
Doping violations can attract a variety of punishments, ranging from life bans to ineligibility to compete for up to eight years to a mere reprimand. This evil definitely needs to be curbed at the grass root level in order to discourage future young offenders. NADA needs to be stringent in its measures starting from younger sportspersons itself. Easy availability and access to these substances is another concern that needs to be addressed and regulated.