New Delhi: Taking serious note of the dope scandal in athletics, the government today cracked the whip by sacking India`s foreign athletics coach Yuri Ogrodnik and formed an inquiry panel to probe the fiasco.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken held the officials and coaches, apart from the athletes, responsible for bringing shame to the nation.
"The positive dope tests of eight athletes brought disgrace to the sporting fraternity and the entire country. So we have decided to take some strong measures against the coaches and officials so that such things don’t occur again in future," Maken told reporters.
"We have decide to relieve the foreign coach (Ogrodnik of Ukraine) attached with these athletes with immediate effect. I will personally see to it and ensure that officials who are responsible for it (scandal) should be penalised," he said.
"I have also asked the Secretary Sports to constitute an inquiry panel headed by a retired High Court judge or chairman, Disciplinary Hearing Panel of Nada to look into the matter and establish reasons leading to such state of affairs, its effect, prevalence and modus operandi.
"The inquiry panel will also suggest concrete measures to ensure that such events/issues doesn`t emerge in future," the minister added.
Indian athletics was rocked by a doping scandal in the last few days when CWG and Asian Games gold-winning relay quartet members Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose as well another qaurtermiler Jauna Murmu tested positive for a banned substance -- methandienone -- in out-of-competition tests.
Apart from the trio, another qaurtermiler Tiana Mary Thomas tested positive for anabolic steroid epimethandiol while long jumper Hari Krishnan Muralidharan and shot putter Sonia were the other two athletes who have tested positive in the last few days.
The scandal grew in proportion yesterday with two more athletes, including the country`s new golden girl Ashwini Akkunji and another quartermiler Priyanka Panwar testing positive for the same anabolic steroid -- methandienone, hours before their departure for Japan for the Asian Championships.
The Sports Minister said the government decided to take action against the support staff because it felt the coaches and officials were leFt scot-free and it was only the athletes who had to suffer when such an incident occurs.
Apart from sacking the foreign coach, the ministry also sought a report on the issue from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
"I have also asked the DG SAI to submit a report within three days about any vigilance lapses and avaibility of such drugs in NIS, Patiala premises. We may also take against any SAI official if found guilty," Maken said.
"I have also asked the Secretary Sports to seek a report from AFI on the measures they are going to take to stop such incidents in future."
Other measures suggested by the ministry in the wake of the scandal, include immediate provisions for rotation of doping officers in the national camps and increasing the strength of doctors at NIS, Patiala.
"I have also asked to examine whether we can increase the number of doctors to atleast three, including one lady doctor. If we have more doctors I think we can be able to control this menace," Maken said.
He also said that the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has already adopted some measures to stop doping menace in the country.
"I have dicussion with NADA Director General (Rahul Bhatnagar) and he told me that NADA has taken some steps to control the menace. NADA has decided to increase the frequency (of dope tests) and track the movement of such drugs in and around the national camps.
"It (NADA) has also decided to tie up with customs to stop the import of such banned substance in the country, especially when the athletes and coaches return from abroad," Maken said.
The Sports Minister sympathised with the tainted athletes, and said in the event of such an incident majority of the blame should lie with the coaches and officials.
"The athletes will undoubtedly face the penalty by way of banning or losing their medals. But without taking their side, the coaches and officials under whom they (athletes) train are more responsible.
"The majority of athletes are illeterate or semi-literate, so they don`t know much about what drugs to take and what not to take. The coaches are supposed to know what the athletes are taking," Maken said.
"How the coach can absolve himself? we can`t be lenient with the coaches and officials."
Apart from Ogorodnik, two Indian coaches – Ramesh Nagapuri and R S Sidhu -- are associated with the sprint team and going by the indication the duo is also set to face the axe soon.
"As of now, only the foreign coach has been sacked but action would be taken against anyone found guilty," Maken said.