Drug menace spreading like cancer: Milkha Singh

Updated: Apr 27, 2013, 23:24 PM IST

Kolkata: Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh on Saturday said doping menace in the country had spread like cancer and urged the athletes to pursue success the hard way instead of going for short-term gains.

"It took me 12 years of hard work to get there... But today`s athletes want instant success by taking drugs. It has spread like cancer," Milkha said, citing the example of the drug controversy surrounding Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh.

After receiving Lifetime Achievement Award at the 58th CSJC annual award ceremony, Milkha said his dream is to see somebody win an Olympic medal in athletics.

"It (the medal) slipped by a whisker in Rome 1960. But before I die, I want to see a youngster win it. That`s my only wish," the 77-year-old, who missed the 400m Olympic bronze narrowly, said.

"There is no dearth of talent in India. If Usain Bolt can make a small country like Jamaica famous, why can`t we do it with over 1.2 billion people. But we are almost nowhere in almost all the Olympic sports.

"There is no shortcut. I did it the hard way, by running and running. People said I would die but I survived because of my strong will power."

He further urged the IOA to give the under-performing coaches an ultimatum.

"We have about 40,000 coaches. Put them in contract and give them a time-frame to deliver. Also, we must inculcate programme at school level and follow the China model."

Describing the award as a huge honour, Milkha further hailed Bengal`s love for sports and said he would love to take a rebirth here.

"I don`t believe in rebirth but if at all there`s any I would like to be born in Bengal. No other state in the country has so much love for sports.

"I still remember people cheering me when I ran here as a youngster about 50 years back. Since then, I`ve developed a special love for Bengal."

Former Indian captains Sourav Ganguly and Bhaichung Bhutia were given special awards in the function held at Town Hall.

Mohun Bagan captain Syed Rahim Nabi and promising shooter Mampi Das were adjudged Best Sportpersons in the senior and junior respectively.

The ceremony also feliciated Shyam Sundar Ghosh for completing 50 years in sports journalism besides giving awards to a host of athletes in various disciplines.

The awardees

Best sportperson (senior): Syed Rahim Nabi, Best sportperson (junior): Mampi Das, Promising player (men`s): Lalrindika Ralte, Promising player (women`s): Tuli Goon, Lifetime achievement: Milkha Singh; Football: Ranty Martins, Cricket: Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Hockey: Guru Pratap Singh, Tabletennis: Kirtika Sinha Roy, Swimming: Sanu Debnath, Volleyball: Rukhsana Khatun, Badminton: Arintapa Dasgupta, Tennis: Amrita Mukherjee, Chess: Mary Ann Gomes, Athletics: Himasree Roy.