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Multi-Pronged Approach To Counter Doping Mulled By Indian Authorities

The All India Council of Sports that recently met under the chairmanship of Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra in the Indian capital has come out strongly with the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) figuring in the news. Recently, the President of the Athletics Federation of India also claimed urine samples were getting swapped for a fee.

The Secretary of Sports, Union Sports Ministry, and the Director General of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) - Injeti Srinivas - remarked he was surprised by the allegations. Srinivas stresses that the Sports Authority of India was only a “facilitator” while the National Sports Federations were the actual “custodian of sportspersons.”

The proposal for legislation to criminalize doping was emphasized upon as a measure to fight against doping. All leading employers of sportspersons were being asked to take “stringent disciplinary action” against them when they were caught in doping.

Indian National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has suggested the establishment of a 24×7 medical helpline for ensuring that sportspersons do not use over-the-counter drugs. Gopichand made the suggestion during the sixth All India Council of Sports meeting. In a statement, the AICS remarked Gopichand mentioned that most of the sportspersons take off the counter medicines like Corex and get caught in doping net. It was also mentioned that it is doubted that the recent case of the women athlete could also be due to a mistakenly-taken medicine for stomach upset.

Srinivas clarified it was not easy for NADA to perform such an extensive task. The Director General of the Sports Authority of India said each National sports federation could have an expert who could be contacted for clarification on the subject.

It was pointed out by former Olympian PT Usha that there were only two dope collecting officials deployed for a large numbers of sportspersons. Usha remarked there are chances of inter-changing the dope samples during this time. Srinivas, replying to the remarks of Usha, said the concept of appointing independent observers to supervise the process of dope collection was being contemplated.

Pawan Aggarwal, the CEO of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), remarked that the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was ready by which food supplements would be tested in collaboration with the Indian National Anti Doping Agency.

Prof. Malhotra remarked there was good response from different sports promotion boards such as the Railways, Petroleum, Services, etc. regarding the details of efforts made by them to promote sports. Malhotra suggested to the sports secretary that each board should be assigned a task to promote a specific sport, to take it to Olympic standards, and avoid duplicity of efforts and expenditure.

In another development, it was suggested by the treasurer of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), Anil Khanna that betting should not be allowed in the country in any form, legal or otherwise, as it could result in compromising the integrity of sportspersons. Khanna cited the example of Italy where a "paltry sum" is paid to a city-level player to compromise the result of a match. Khanna supported the lottery system as followed by United Kingdom as the right way forward.

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Albert Wolfgang
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