CHENNAI: There seems to be no end to positive dope tests at the South Asian and National Cross Country Championships held in Kohima, Nagaland early last year. Two more medallists have returned positive for a banned substance.
According to the list available on World Athletics’ anti-doping arm Athletics Integrity Unit website under Global list of ineligible persons, long distance runners Varsha Devi and Prashant Chaudhary have failed dope tests this time.
Two medallists from the Khelo India University Games too have returned positive. According to AIU, all athletes, admitting to the offence and accepting sanction, have opted for the new three-year reduced ban instead of the mandatory four. Samples were collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency and tested at the National Dope Testing Laboratory. However, the NADA is yet to update it on its website as of now.
Varsha had won the women’s 10km while Prashant finished second in the U-20 8km run. Both tested positive for darbepoetin (dEPO), a substance that helps in producing red blood cells. This newspaper had earlier pointed out this new trend where middle and long distance runners are testing positive for dEPO and EPO. With more reliable methods for testing in place and with the biological passport being mandatory for national and international athletes, cases of EPO are getting detected. This also indicates how much the drug is in use right from the junior level.
Earlier, Manju Yadav, representing Railways at the national cross country event tested positive for the banned steroid 19-norandrosterone in 10k women’s run. She too had accepted a reduced three-year ban. Manju finished second in the cross country event.
They are not alone. In a disturbing trend, two more athletes who medalled at the Khelo India University Games also tested positive. The AIU website has listed ‘Tanuja’, a discus thrower who failed dope test for metandienone (steroid) at the Khelo India University Games in Bengaluru last year. At the Games, Tanuja had won discus gold with a throw of 47.07m. Another athlete long distance runner Ankit Malik who won 1500m gold, tested positive for darbepoetin (dEPO). The multiple cases in Khelo India Games are not a healthy sign.
Usually used to treat acute anemia, dEPO helps to produce more blood cells, which helps in reducing fatigue in athletes. In short, more red blood cells mean more oxygen to the tired muscles which eventually reduces fatigue for endurance athletes.