The top Indian athletes are out of the Registered Testing Pool (RTP) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Instead, we have two lesser-known athletes, javelin thrower Rajender Singh Dalvir and woman long jumper Renubala Mahanta, as the sole representatives from India in the IAAF RTP, effective from last month.
Seven Indian athletes including Rajender Singh were part of the IAAF RTP since October last year.
The other six were Vikas Gowda (discus), Kashinath Naik (javelin), Saurabh Vij (shot put), Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu (400m) and Krishna Poonia (discus). Woman shot putter Manpreet Kaur was part of the list for a brief period in October-December last year.
The larger presence of the Indians in the list following the success of the athletes in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games last year, followed by the ‘positive' tests returned by two of the RTP athletes, Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu, last June, might have seemingly set the stage for the IAAF to tighten its grip over the ‘alarming' Indian situation.
But that has not happened. Instead the IAAF seems to have scaled down its ‘anti-doping attention' towards Indian athletes. With the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) yet to have any meaningful ‘whereabouts' programme, this is a big setback for anti-doping in India. A ‘whereabouts' programme helps an anti-doping agency keep track of athletes round the year for surprise tests at training venues, homes and other places.
Rajender Singh, 22, threw a personal best 75.74m while winning the javelin title at the Open National in Kolkata last month. He had got into the limelight and the RTP in 2010 by coming second in the inter-State meet at Patiala with the then PB of 75.26.
Renubala is currently serving a two-year doping suspension and as such her retention in the list is surprising. She had tested positive at the World Junior championships in Moncton, Canada, in July last year.
Following the outstanding success of the Indian athletes in the Asian Games last year, there was speculation that a larger number of them would be roped into the RTP, but even as performances fell sharply this year, the large majority of the Indians remained out of the ‘dreaded list'.
With the Olympic qualification tempo set to pick up early next year, the IAAF could be expected to review the Indian names in the list in the coming months.
“The comforting thought for the prospective dopers among Indian athletes should be the testing statistics which show that no Indian athlete was tested under the IAAF out-of-competition programme in 2010.
“The only Indian athlete to be tested by the IAAF the previous year was Krishna Poonia. She was also the lone Indian athlete in the 2009 RTP.”
Not a single Indian athlete was tested by the IAAF in out-of-competition testing in 2008 while 20 were tested in 2007 and 40 in 2006.
In fact following the South African episode in 2006, when a batch of more than 35 Indian athletes ran from their training base at Potchefstroom, when confronted by IAAF/WADA testers, the IAAF had placed as many as 41 Indian athletes in its registered pool.
Currently, the ‘who is who' of world athletics are in the IAAF RTP, with 25 Jamaicans, 62 Kenyans, 84 Russians and 58 Americans among them.
At the moment, though they are not so high in the world lists, some of the Indian athletes are among the top in Asia in the 2011 performance chart. Om Prakash (shot put, 20.07m), Vikas Gowda (discus, 64.91m) and Mayookha Johny (long jump, 6.63) are number two in the Asian lists.
Tintu Luka (800m, 2:00.95) is third while Poonia (discus, 62.25m) is sixth, five Chinese being ahead of the Indian, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
All these athletes are among those who have qualified for the Olympics.