Track and field athletes have displaced weightlifters from the top of the dope-offenders’ list for the year 2011-2012.

Athletes account for 27 of the ‘positive’ cases out of a total of 103 from 3586 tests during the period April, 2011 to March, 2012.

Quite disturbingly, the numbers have gone up further with another 34 out of a total of 91 from January to October this year being athletes.

During the 2010-2011period, weightlifting topped the offenders’ list with 25, while powerlifting came next at 20. Boxing (15), kabaddi (15) and athletics (13) followed.

Kabaddi (20), and weightlifting (16) follow athletics in the 2011-2012 list while powerlifting (4) has fallen way behind mainly because of lesser number of tests being done. Weightlifting has 17 ‘positive’ cases this year, up to October.

Athletics crossed the half-century mark for dope offenders in domestic testing sometime in February this year since the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) became effective in January, 2009. It is set to cross 80 now. Seventy-two cases of track and field athletes have been disposed of by anti-doping disciplinary panels up to November 5, including the latest in the list of 11 methylhexaneamine offenders, shot putter Saurabh Vij and discus thrower Akash Antil.

At least eight more athletes are either scheduled to appear before hearing panels this month or are waiting to be lined up within the next few weeks.

Alarming figures

These are alarming figures. Even when the number had crossed 50, at the completion of three years of testing by the NADA last February, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had expressed its anxiety in the mounting list of ‘positive’ cases.

Of the 72 cases adjudicated, only one (Saroj Sihag of the Police) escaped any kind of punishment even after an appeal. One (Jitender Singh) ended up with a life ban for a second offence; two others (P.B. Giri and Seema Jakhar) were given eight-year suspensions for second offences.

Two athletes (Jagdish Patel and Reena Bittan) were given one-year suspensions while the rest received two-year bans. Bittan actually had her three-month suspension increased to one year on an appeal by the NADA.

The cases of six woman athletes, four of whom were part of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold-medal winning relay teams, reached the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on an appeal from the IAAF. They were banned for two years by the CAS last July.

In recent times, quite a number of “promising” junior athletes or those just emerging out of the junior ranks have tested positive, showing the extent to which doping has spread in the sport.

Hammer thrower Harvinder Singh Dagar, javelin thrower Rohit Kumar and discus throwers Kripal Singh and Anshu Rai were among the prominent young athletes who tested positive and received two-year bans. They were among the top two or three in their respective events in domestic meets.

Now there is news of another young athlete, a discus thrower, who has represented the country at the World Youth and World junior championships in 2009, having tested positive at the Open National in Chennai last September.

Compared to 382 tests done in athletics in the 2010-2011 period, as many as 803 were done in the 2011-2012 period.

The spiralling number of ‘positive’ tests could be attributed to increasing tests.

However, just sample this. Of the 8204 tests done by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2011, as many as 2051 were on athletes. In the first two quarters in 2012, the USADA has done 1564 tests on athletes.

  • The spiralling number of ‘positive’ cases could be attributed to increasing tests

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