Shadow of doping: cheating, inappropriate knowledge, conspiracy or incompetence of authorities?

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Wrestler Sumit Malik has been banned provisionally after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing substances.

Come Olympics and the ghost of doping comes back to haunt Indian sports! The system has failed on two counts – first to educate the innocents and second to instil fears in dope cheats! The system either is guilty or incompetence. That is a bigger debate.

The instant point is that the system has failed yet again. Olympic-bound heavyweight wrestler Sumit Malik has failed the in-competition dope test at the World Olympic qualifiers last month.

Ironically, the system has been failing without failure since 2004 when two female weightlifters had tested positive for banned performance enhancing substance. One was nabbed out of competition and the other was flown back from Athens in the midst of the Olympics.

Woman weightlifter Pratima Kumari (63kg) was nabbed and banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) following an out of competition test and Sanamacha Chanu (53kg) was caught for dope cheating during the Games.

Nothing much has changed in 16 years. Indian sport is yet again shamed going into the Tokyo 2020 Games. May be or may be not Malik took the performance-enhancing drug. The defence or truth can also be a mistake or a conspiracy. It may also be too early to  judge. Sumit’s B sample is to go for testing on June 10.

As of now Indian wrestling has provisionally lost one of its eight quota places for the Tokyo Games. Indian Olympic movement has lost its face.

The bigger question is even if Malik is guilty should only he be held responsible? What did the Wrestling Federation of India do to prevent the repetition of a Narsingh Yadav fiasco? The 73kg freestyle wrestler had allegedly fallen prey to a conspiracy, tested positive and missed the Olympics four years ago.

The sequence of dope failures in India at the time of the Olympics goes like the two women weightlifter (2004 Athens), another women weightlifter Monica Devi ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, ahead of the 2012 London Games it was women’s 400-metre runners pool of six, and then sprinter Dharamvir Singh and shot putter Inderjit were caught cheating in the pre-departure dope test for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

MOOT QUESTIONS

  • Why is it that dope cheats are caught during the Olympic year since 2004?
  • Is doping prevalent in the Indian sports society and only the cases are highlighted when the “big fish” is trapped?
  • Are sports governing bodies and the department in-charge for doping control in the Ministry of Sports incompetent units?
  • Do athletes lack right knowledge and education on doping?
  • Is screening not appropriate to check dope cheats?

LACK OF PROPER SCREENING

A veteran athletics coach on condition of anonymity confesses that screening is both inappropriate and inadequate.  “If proper screening of athletes is done before major international competitions several wouldn’t qualify at the first place,” the coach has said.

Most federations in the country run like power centres of sports. Control on the seat of power comes before welfare of sport and sportspersons. Those in the elite office of sports governance are compelled to have federation bosses than the sportspersons. Their survival in office is determined by federations’ votes, not by the athletes output in the middle.

The professionalism in the Government bodies can be gauged from the fact that world anti-doping watch dog (WADA) had not just suspended the Indian National Dope Testing Laboratory in August 2019 for six months, but the suspension was further extended for non-conformation to international standards.

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