In the wake of a series of doping scandals involving Indian sportspersons getting ready for the Commonwealth Games, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has also sprung a surprise by sending a team of testers to the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala, with just over 20 days to go for the Games.
A two-member Australian testing team, authorised by the WADA to carry out tests on Indian sportspersons training at the NIS, had arrived at the NIS last Friday. According to information gathered from various sources at Patiala, the WADA team has so far collected urine samples of weightlifters, boxers and athletes.
It could not be confirmed on Sunday whether the team's mission had ended. With a series of doping incidents reported by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in recent days, the visit by the WADA team assumes significance.
Two women weightlifters (Shailaja Pujari and B. Premeelavalli) had tested positive prior to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games from samples collected by the WADA less than a month before the Games at Patiala.
According to sources, the WADA team collected urine samples of the following weightlifters: Men: V.S. Rao (56kg), Omkar Otari (62kg), K. Ravi Kumar (69kg), Sarabjit (+105kg); Women: Soniya Chanu (48kg), Swati Singh (53kg), Renubala Chanu (58kg), Geeta Rani (+75kg). All of them have been selected in the Indian side for the Commonwealth Games.
The team also took the samples of eight boxers, six of them members of the Indian team for the Games. They were: Amandeep Singh (49kg), Suranjoy Singh (52kg), Akhil Kumar (56kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Dilbagh Singh (69kg) and Manpreet Singh (91kg).
Two other boxers who are not part of the Indian team, Jitender Kumar and Vikas Krishan, also provided samples.
Four of the Indian team members, Olympic bronze medal-winner Vijender Singh (75kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg) and Paramjit Samota (over 91kg) were not available. It could not be ascertained where they were, but sources said they had taken permission to go on leave.
Surprisingly, athletics found only four being asked to report: Shot putter Om Prakash Singh and 400m hurdler Joseph Abraham among men and discus thrower Seema Antil and middle distance runner O. P. Jaisha among women.
With 90 athletes announced by the federation as part of the Indian team, athletics will form the largest chunk of the Indian contingent at the Games.
It was not known whether all the athletes were available at the camp or whether any one had left the camp after the news spread that a WADA testing team was in the campus.
The sprinters, middle and long distance runners and women jumpers are among those stationed in Bangalore. Part of the sprinting team and the women's 400m runners are at present in Ukraine under an extended training programme scheduled to last till September 30. There was apparently some panic at the NIS when the WADA team arrived, but a source indicated that evading the testers, a common practice among athletes over the years, would be difficult this time.
On an earlier occasion some of the athletes had stayed away from a NADA team and an enquiry was ordered into that episode, though nothing has come of it so far.