NEW DELHI: Khelo India School Games (KISG) – the government’s ambitious flagship programme for budding sports talent whose inaugural edition was staged here recently – has been hit by a doping scandal.
Some of the country’s promising young athletes in different disciplines have returned positive for prohibited drugs, including high-end substances like mephentermine and stanozolol, both anabolic steroids.
According to the ‘adverse analytical finding’ results available with TOI, a total of 12 athletes from wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, judo, volleyball and athletics, have failed the A sample test, leading to a major question mark on the anti-doping authorities’ efforts to curb the doping menace at the school and college level.
National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has duly charged the athletes with doping violations. Coincidentally, all of them had finished on the podium during the U-17 school-level competition, which was held across five stadia in the national capital in 16 sports disciplines from January 31 to February 8 this year.
All 12 athletes are staring at a ban ranging from two to four years if their B sample test also returns positive. The only way the athletes can escape punishment is if they can convince NADA disciplinary panel that the banned substance entered their system because of their ignorance.
Out of these athletes, eight failed the test for ‘Furosemide’, a diuretic used as a masking agent to hide the presence of drugs in urine. Diuretics, also called water pills, increase the production of urine in the body. However, it comes under the ‘specified substance’ category of WADA’s list of prohibited substance and doesn’t automatically attract provisional suspension. This is why NADA hasn’t provisionally banned the eight athletes but has called for them to opt for ‘optional’ suspension.
Two athletes have failed dope test for ‘Terbutaline’ – a beta-2 agonist, another specified substance which doesn’t attract mandatory suspension. However, it’s up to the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) and the respective national sports federations (NSFs) to take a call on putting them under provisional suspension till the final outcome of the hearing panel.
A boxer has failed the dope test for anabolic steroid stanozolol while a judo player’s urine sample has revealed traces of mephentermine. Both are non-specified substances and the two athletes have been put under mandatory suspension. The use of high-end doping substance should come as a major worry for the Nada.
Concerned about the rising number of dope cases among school and college-level athletes, NADA had planned to carry out a record drug testing during the KISG. According to NADA officials, more than 500 dope samples were collected from the 3750+ participants at the event.
KISG was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid much fanfare.