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Monday, September 20, 1999

Nambiar laments state of dope testing in Indian athletics

Ravi Menon  
KOZHIKODE, SEPT 19: ``Get ready for a spate of records at the SAF Games in Kathmandu,'' predicted Dronacharya Award winner OM Nambiar, the former coach of PT Usha.

``Even an Asian record is not out of question, as the meet is unlikely to have a foolproof system for dope testing. It was the same case with all the previous editions of the Games, and I don't expect things to change for the better in this edition too,'' he added, insisting that the existing dope test methods in the sub-continent were not dependable.

He pointed out that the performance of the Indian athletes in the meets abroad, where they have strict and flawless dope tests, had always been dismal. ``Usha, however, was a rare exception. Most of her records were set abroad,'' said the coach.

``Even in the Asian Games at Bangkok, where India won a few medals, the dope tests had not been foolproof, if reports were to be believed.''

The former National coach expressed concern about the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in Indianathletics, even at the junior level. ``At the National junior meet in Lucknow last month, a young participant was seen taking an injection hurriedly, just before the start of boys 100m sprint. When I showed this to my ward Sukumari, she was shocked.

``The fact that he dared to take the shot at the ground itself, tells the state of athletics in the country,'' Nambiar said. ``Such scenes have become common at the domestic meets. Unless an advanced method of dope testing is introduced at the National meets, the future of our athletics will continue to be bleak,'' he warned.

``India should not lag when sophisticated test methods are being introduced even in the other Asian countries. Apart from the urine tests, the blood tests too have become a must in Europe and the US,'' Nambiar said. He attributed the `doping revolution' to some of the foreign coaches who have been assisting the National team's training.

Nambiar applauded Usha for her National record-breaking performance in the 200m at the Lucknow SeniorNationals recently. ``It was laudable as her effort came a decade after she set the earlier mark at the Asian Track and Field Meet under my guidance,'' said the coach who had not favoured Usha's comeback to the track a couple of years back.

``Personally, I feel the senior athletes should step aside in favour of the juniors in the domestic meets. Most of these seasoned stars, who come out with sparkling performances at the domestic level, prefer to stay away from the international meets where there are strict dope tests. These veterans are in a way denying our young brigade opportunities to show their mettle at the national level.'' Murali Kuttan, a former 400m bronze medallist at the Asian Games (1978), shared Nambiar's view on dopipng. ``Had I used a performance-enhancing drug, I would have easily won an Asiad gold in the event,'' he joked.``The tragic part is that most of the drug offenders looking for instant results are not aware of the deadly effects of these drugs. The tales of sportspersons whoselives were ruined by the drugs, should be an eye-opener to our athletes.''Murali pointed out that the use of drugs by Indian athletes is no more a secret affair. ``It was there right from the 1982 Asian Games,'' said the former athlete, who had coached the Steel Plant and Bihar State teams.

Nambiar informed that Sukumari, one of his trainees, who helped the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI) team to 4x400m gold at the recent senior Nationals, will represent India in the forthcoming Asian juniors at Singapore.

``Sukumari is now concentrating on the 400m. But I hope to make her switch to the 800m next year. If everything goes right, she would the first Indian woman to cover the distance in sub-2 minutes,'' he said. The 19-year old is one of the five trainees of Nambiar, the others being Linette Mathew, Sheeba Joseph, Jiji and Nicy Joseph.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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