MUMBAI: In a move to check dope offenders early on, the Athletics Federation of India has said that testing will be done at every state meet in the country. The new measures were introduced in Kerala earlier this month, and three NADA officials will be present when Mumbai hosts the 69th Maharashtra State Senior Athletics Championships on June 25 and 26, 2019.
“We have zero-tolerance to doping and we pushed the government into saying that (in) every-single state meet, there should be dope control. The problem we face is starting at an early age, junior, state and district-level. It is happening at inter-railway, inter-police and inter-services meet. But this menace (of doping) has to stop and we are very serious about it,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said.
The AFI chief said that expanding the net is essential if India has to tackle the issue of doping. The problem is extensive all over the world but the onus is now also on countries to not send tainted athletes to international meets and avoid disqualification. Having anti-doping measures set at the state level may mean that tainted athletes are filtered out of the system early on. Another malaise plaguing the Indian sports system is overage athletes. While Sumariwalla acknowledged that there were many cases where athletes did not actually know their date of birth because of the flawed process of birth registrations in the country, he said the AFI will be looking to crack a whip on those who knowingly indulged in age fraud.
“There are no fool-proof methods yet, the world over, that can definitively tell someone’s age,” he said. “Bone tests can only tell if someone is over or under 17, with an error margin of 3-4 months. But to make sure that athletes don’t participate in different AFI meets under different names or birth dates, we have started taking their biometrics. It’s a pilot project right now.”
The AFI is also going to start talent testing and scouting at junior state meets. “There is a lot of raw talent in the country. We are going to use proven scientific methods to find it,” the former national champ said. “Right now we concentrate only on youngsters who finish in the top-3 at meets, but the talent search can help us spot someone who has a lot of talent but hasn’t finished in the top 3 because of lack of training.”