Indian athletics stood exposed on the eve of the Asian athletics championships here. Not its depth of talent, but its doping ways.
It is not that doping is new to Indian athletics or for that matter Asian athletics; it is just the thought that the country's elite women quarter-milers who had projected themselves as unbeatable, at least in the continent, are today being mentioned not for their gold-winning feats, but for their dope-driven efforts.
As the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) Senior Vice President, Dhalan Al-Hamad, addressed the media here on Wednesday, along with the Japan federation officials, the questions that kept cropping up were all related to the doping offence. There was a pointed mention by a Japanese journalist of A. C. Ashwini, the star quarter-miler and hurdler who made a terrific impact at the Asian Games last year in Guangzhou.
Gen. Al-Hamad was clearly ill-prepared and even said India has had a problem in the past, too, but quickly corrected to say that this was a personal act and “we wont allow any one violating the rules to compete. Obviously, suspended athletes cannot compete.”
But the General did say that the disease of doping “destroys reputations of athletes and member federations.”
What would be the testing plan during these championships, the question was put to the AAA Senior Vice President, who perforce had to take over the responsibility in the absence of the President, Suresh Kalmadi, who is in jail.
“We have medical delegates and they will follow the IAAF rules,” was all that Gen Al-Hamad had to say.
There have been occasions when not even medallists were tested at the Asian championships. And they don't catch many at these championships. But then, that has been the pattern across the globe. Very few get caught at championships.
In this cat and mouse game, athletes do not come into big meets stuffed with steroids to get caught and punished. Getting the substance out of the system is the key to all doping programmes. And then you have to maintain the edge gained, not wash out the advantage too, apart from staying away from the sight of testers.
Expertise is required here.