Sports

ATHLETICS | With NADA missing, cheats have a free run at varsities Nationals

Used syringes and vials found in stadium washrooms at the National women’s varsities championships in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Special arrangement
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Every year, athletes come up with some stunning performances at the National inter-university athletics championships. Some skip the Athletics Federation of India’s National meets but sometimes even produce India-leading timings and marks at university meets and then work out strategies to get into the Indian team for the major championships.

There is no dope-testing at university meets, the National Anti-Doping Agency’s officials do not turn up at varsities Nationals, and that has often helped cheats prosper at these championships.

Seasoned coach George Emmanuel, who went with Kottayam’s Mahatma Gandhi University team, spotted used syringes and vials in bathrooms in Bhubaneswar’s KIIT Stadium, the venue of the National inter-university women’s athletics championships, on Thursday night.

“Found these from the stadium bathrooms,” George told The Hindu from Bhubaneswar as he sent a few photos of the illegal stuff used by cheats late on Thursday night and also posted them in the Whatsapp group set up for the meet’s coaches and officials.

There were quick reactions from many in the group, and there were calls for NADA to be present in varsities meets in future.

Used syringes and vials found in stadium washrooms at the National women’s varsities championships in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Special arrangement

Used syringes and vials found in stadium washrooms at the National women’s varsities championships in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Special arrangement
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

“Very sad.. .where are our athletes headed,” asked one.

“Such bad trends can destroy the sport and budding athletes. Therefore, the concerned authorities should ensure the presence of NADA in these meets in the coming years,” said another.

The doping scene in Indian sport has reached worrying levels. Reports are now coming in that nearly 25 athletes, including nine in athletics, have failed dope tests taken at the recent National Games in Goa.

And in September, there was the strange case of athletes vanishing from the Delhi State meet when NADA officials turned up to test them after a video clip of the stadium’s washroom which showed piles of used syringes went viral. In the end, just one athlete ran the 100m.

A month after that, the men’s 5000m at the National Open in Bengaluru had a bizarre scene. Nobody in the lead bunch appeared keen to win the race, fearing that they might have to undergo a dope test after a successful finish.

The men’s varsities National athletics championships, which begins in Chennai on January 4, will offer another golden opportunity for NADA to catch them young.

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