India has the second highest number of dope cheats in the world, according to a recent report by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Forty-three Indians are currently serving suspensions for doping, just behind Russia, 44 of whose athletes are on the suspended list.
India, whose achievements in athletics are modest, was in fact on top of the list until last month. The number of suspended athletes, however, fell from 52 to 43 after the IAAF lifted nine suspensions recently.
A majority of Indian athletes have been suspended for using banned steroids like stanozolol and methandienone.
Mukul Chatterjee, director-general of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), said, “The number of positive cases in athletics is on the rise. Out of 30 sportspersons who failed dope tests from April to July this year, 10 are track and field athletes. The number of positive cases that have emerged in athletics over the last couple of years is a matter of concern.”
Chief selector of the Indian athletics team GS Randhawa blamed it on short-sightedness on the part of the athletes. “We should be first on the list, not second,” Randhawa said, sarcastically. “Athletes always blame coaches when they test positive but they are equally responsible. In an attempt to achieve immediate glory, they fail to recognise the long-term consequences of doping.”
The banned list released by the IAAF on July 30 includes top Indian domestic and international track and field athletes. Among them are shot-putter Saurabh Vij and discuss thrower Akash Antil. The most high-profile case of recent times has been that of the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medal winning relay team, whose members tested positive in 2011. Their bans were lifted last month.
Fifteen Indian athletes are taking part in the World Championships currently under way in Moscow. Chatterjee said that the group had been tested before they left, and that they were clean.
On Monday, Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said a staggering 279 athletes across all sports had tested positive for banned substances over the last two years.