It is a well-known fact that doping in India is widespread, across sports and across all age groups. The country now also has the ‘distinction’ of topping the percentages for ‘positive’ tests returned by accredited laboratories in the year 2011.

According to the statistical data released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for its accredited laboratories for 2011, the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL), New Delhi, had tested 4,387 samples in 2011, out of which 225, a percentage of 5.13, came positive. The NDTL’s own figures differ slightly, with a total of 4,524 tests and 227 ‘positive’ cases. Even after accounting for 1,654 ‘international tests’ done by the NDTL, in its total for 2011, with a ‘positive’ number of 104, National-level testing comes to 2,870 samples and a ‘positive’ list of 123, amounting to 4.28 per cent. (The NDTL numbers include those ‘double blind’ samples that the WADA may send as a matter of routine to test its efficiency which could be one of the reasons for the discrepancy in numbers).

Looking at the overall numbers, rather than domestic testing figures for each laboratory, which are not available, the next highest percentage is that of the Bangkok laboratory at 3.59 from a total of 124 ‘positives’ from 3,456 tests.

During the days when it was not accredited and the number of samples was much lower than the present figures, the NDTL (then known as Dope Control Centre) had returned double digit percentages between 1994 and 1997 in domestic testing, with a peak of 17 per cent in 1997.

The University of California (UCLA) Olympic Analytical Laboratory, Los Angeles, has tested the maximum number of samples in 2011, with 40,994. Montreal (15,372), Moscow (15,370), Cologne (14,316), Salt Lake, USA (13,794) and Beijing (13,275) follow well behind Los Angeles. The UCLA lab had 319 adverse analytical findings (AAFs), amounting to 0.78 per cent of total numbers, while Montreal had 256 ‘positive’ cases, accounting for 1.67 per cent of the total.

The WADA figures draw a distinction between AAF and atypical findings, where endogenous steroid levels may be higher than prescribed, but confirmation may require further follow-up studies.

From a total of 243,193 samples the 33 accredited laboratories reported 2,885 AAFs and 1,971 atypical findings, totalling 4,856 cases.

Olympic sports accounted for 1,762 AAFs, while non-Olympic sports had 1,123.

Including atypical findings, there were 3,205 cases in Olympic sports. The ‘positive’ cases were up compared to the previous year when 2,790 AAFs were reported, but the total number of samples was more then, going up to 258,267. In Asia, Beijing (13,275) tops the number of samples tested with Seoul (5,210), Tokyo (5,062), New Delhi (4,387), Bangkok (3,456) and Almaty, Kazakhstan (2,805) coming behind.

‘Positive’ cases

Cycling, in focus these days because of the Lance Armstrong doping saga, tops the sports disciplines for ‘positive’ cases with 321 out of 19,139 samples. Weightlifting (243 from 7,693), athletics (234 from 23,799), football (172 from 28,578) and basketball (140 from 7,963) were the other prominent ‘offenders’.

Surprisingly, chess shows one case of AAF last year. Badminton has zero AAF, but four atypical findings. Cricket has four AAFs and two atypical cases from 929 tests.

Like in the past, steroids top the banned substances detected, with 3,325 cases coming under this category. Stimulants come next at 718, followed by cannabinods (445) and diuretics (368).

Elevated testosterone (T/E ratio) levels account for 1,800 cases among steroids. Unlike what some of the ‘desi experts’ might like us to believe, stanozolol, the drug that Ben Johnson used in 1988 to be stripped of his Seoul Olympic gold, continues to be one of the favourite steroids, with 275 cases.

Nandrolone (240) and methandienone (145) come next. Among stimulants, the much-publicised methylhexaneamine is way ahead in ‘popularity’ with 283 cases, with amphetamines at 133.

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