By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) No samples for dope tests were collected on the first day of the five-day 36th National Junior Athletics Championships in Guwhati on Saturday as National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was conspicuous by its absence.
“We have written to NADA, but I didn’t see any dope testing officials from NADA present here in Guwahati on Saturday,” Adille Sumariwalla, president of the Athletics Federation of India, told IANS.
A former multiple sprint champion, Sumariwalla said that no dope tests was a worrying factor as it would encourage youngsters to use performance-enhancing drugs. “It’s important to test young athletes for banned drugs at the grassroots level in sports,” he said.
While phone calls and text messages sent to NADA Director-General Navin Aggarwal went unanswered, an official said that lack of funds with NADA could be a reason for not sending a team to the championships being held at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
“Inadequate funds could be a reason as urine and blood samples that are collected are to foreign labs as the New Delhi’s Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) is under suspension for not following WADA guidelines for laboratories. And sending samples abroad for testing costs a lot,” said the official.
On the other hand, a member of the NADA’s disciplinary panel said the reason could be the lack of trained staff with NADA.
The Indian team for the proposed World Junior Athletics Championships, to be held this year, would be selected during the Guwahati competition.
One of the coaches said that none of the athletes were tested even at a junior competition last month. “Earlier, during the Junior Federation Cup in January in Bhopal, NADA had skipped the event,” he pointed out.
Over 1,600 athletes are competing in different age groups, including under-20 category.
A 2019 World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) report on anti-doping rule violation shows India ranked at number one spot. Since 2012, WADA had been making its reports public and for three consecutive years, from 2013 to 2015, India was ranked third. Weightlifting and athletics are the main disciplines that constitute the majority of the positive cases.