New Delhi: Doping in athletics is not limited to seniors only but has spread to the junior and sub-junior level as well, claims former head of sports medicine at SAI, Dr Ashok Ahuja.
Ahuja said it would be a Herculean task to clear this doping mess from Indian sports.
"Government has to take strict measures now. But punishing officials and players only will not solve any purpose. Efforts are required at grassroot level as doping now exists at junior and sub-junior level also," Ahuja, who has exposed the structured and systematic doping racket at NIS Patiala, said.
Chief medical officer of SAI and renowned sports medicine expert Dr PSM Chandran said that the trend of doping exists at Bangalore centre and Army Sports Institute, Pune also.
"Only NIS Patiala get focused but reality is that the trend of doping exists at Banglore and even SAI Pune. This is not new as far as Indian sports are concerned and AFI is very well aware of this," he said.
He said that there were clouds of doubt on women relay team which was winning medals on regular basis but the question is how did they manage to come clean till this recent fiasco.
"It is hard to believe that Ashwini Akkunji had reduced five seconds in five months. Everyone was feeling that something is wrong," said Chandran.
Both of them have blamed foreign coaches and AFI for this turmoil.
"The trend started with foreign coaches who bought this to India. I don't want to comment on their technical abilities but they should not be allowed to do this unethical practices here," said Dr Ahuja.
He reiterated that the main culprits were Dr Yuri Boyko (a Ukrainian doctor) and Dr Alexander (training method expert who was part of the support staff) who were brought by the AFI in 1998 with the sole motive of pumping athletes with performance enhancing drugs with no regard to their health.
Asked why did SAI doctors kept mum on this issue over the years, Ahuja said that they were sidelined totally.
"Players used to complain about that but we were not consulted. AFI used to run the thing on their own. We were sidelined totally. Recently 8-9 months back one female athlete had complained that she had been given performance enhancing injections," he said.
"It is very unfortunate that we have been watching youth getting spoilt but could do nothing. I used to pass on information to my authorities who obviously passed that to ministry but no action had been taken," said Ahuja.
Chandran blamed the federation for this doping mess and said SAI is only a facility provider for training.
"It is the federation who appoints foreign coaches. Such things could not proliferate without official patronage .AFI is aware of everything," said Dr Chandran who is on the NADA hearing panel on confirmed dope cases.
He said that the major issue is players’ health but nobody seems to be bothered about that.
"There is a need to create awareness among players about the medical implications of doping. Performance enhancement can be done with legal means also but nobody is interested in that and it is a bigger irony. Everyone is looking for short cut," he said.
First Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011, 15:09