India’s drive against doping in sports has received a setback with two of its track-and-field Tokyo Olympians, a male and a female, failing dope tests for using banned anabolic steroids and facing bans up to four years, The Indian Express has learnt.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was tight-lipped about the cases but multiple sources confirmed that the two top athletes have been dropped from the national training camp.
“Two track-and-field athletes have tested positive and they are no longer part of the national camp,” a national coach said, speaking to this newspaper on condition of anonymity.
India is ranked third in doping, according to the latest World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report released in 2021. With 152 cases across disciplines, the country is marginally below leaders Russia (167) and Italy (157) on this list.
The female athlete under the scanner was expected to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year, and was a contender to enter the World Athletics Championships finals. Buoyed by her meteoric rise and medal potential, the AFI had also scouted for a foreign coach after the Tokyo Olympics.
The male athlete’s samples were collected during an out-of-competition test. Although his current form has dipped, he remains an international medallist.
Both were part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, under which athletes receive funding from the sports ministry, at various stages of their career.
At the domestic level, too, the scourge of doping has seen an Under-23 medal winner in the women’s 100 metres, who was labelled as a future star, and a podium finisher among men at the Open Nationals testing positive.
Both of them received reduced three-year bans after admitting to anti-doping rule violations instead of appearing for disciplinary panel hearings.