A leading woman 400m runner is learnt to have “evaded” dope testers at Patiala last week.

The incident occurred during the Federation Cup meet where she was not entered. A team from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) which had gone to Patiala wanted to test the athlete “out of competition”, but the athlete, according to sources, refused.

The NADA team apparently could not serve a notice to her since she avoided the team.

However, the NADA representatives brought the serious violation to the notice of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

Another attempt was made by the NADA on Monday by giving a notice to the AFI to make the athlete available for testing within a stipulated time, but that also did not meet with success.

The NADA does not have a “whereabouts” programme in place by which it could expect athletes to be available at designated places including their residences.

The AFI is learnt to have explained that the athlete was no longer part of the “core probables” for the Olympics.

An AFI official, however, said on phone from Patiala on Tuesday that the athlete was on “leave” from the camp right now.

The question is, did she attend the camp at any stage from at least January this year? The camp has been in progress since February, 2011.

On NADA radar

The 400m runner has been on the NADA radar since the last inter-State meet in Bangalore in June last year.

Somehow she had eluded the testers there and continued to avoid being tested since then.

The NADA has stepped up its testing of athletes following the doping incident involving six leading female 400m runners last year.

They are currently under suspension.

An athlete proceeding on “leave” from national camp is nothing new. But when athletes take long leave of absence, doubts are raised over the reasons.

Long history

In Indian athletics, there is a long history of athletes evading dope testers by going on leave ostensibly because of “injuries” or family commitments.

In 2006 when a team from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) came looking for Indian athletes at the NIS, Patiala, following an en masse unscheduled departure of a 39-member team from its training base in Potchefstroom, South Africa, almost all the athletes had “disappeared” from Patiala.

A majority of them were reportedly on “leave” and an enquiry that the AFI ordered led to nothing.

A Sports Authority of India (SAI) enquiry a few years ago also led to no action after athletes at the NIS camp evaded NADA testers.

The NADA, which has the authority to test an athlete “anywhere, anytime”, is planning to take up the case of the “evading” woman 400m runner with the AFI and bring the matter to a logical conclusion.

“Refusing, — or failing without compelling justification — to submit to sample collection after notification as authorised in these anti-doping rules or otherwise evading sample collection” is an offence under the NADA rules and the WADA Code.

Keywords: NADAWADAdoping

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