AICS Chairman recommends judicial probe into doping

NEW DELHI OCT. 31. The All India Council of Sports (AICS) Chairman, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, has recommended to the Union Sports Minister that a judicial enquiry be held into the doping scandal that has surfaced since the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

"Let there be a judicial enquiry into all the aspects of the doping controversy by a sitting High Court judge. If required, after this enquiry, there could be a CBI enquiry. I have requested the Sports Minister to initiate the proceedings towards this purpose,'' Mr. Malhotra told a press conference here on Thursday.

In the first positive development since the Sunita Rani doping scandal broke at the Busan Asian Games, Mr. Malhotra said that only a high-powered, impartial enquiry commission would be able to catch the `culprits' so as to ensure that there were no criticisms later of things having been handled in a haphazard manner.

Hopefully, in the coming days, the Union Sports Ministry should be accepting the AICS' recommendation about conducting a judicial probe. Its silence all these days, apart from repeated statements regarding the wait for the official confirmation of the dope tests from Busan, has been mystifying, to say the least.

A federation-ordered enquiry to find out whether there was a prima facie case against Sunita and a departmental enquiry to see whether Sunita's coach Renu Kohli had any role to play in the episode could not have exposed the true extent of doping in Indian sports. That the departmental enquiry is being conducted by the head of the dope control lab here, whose very role has come under a cloud, following the Sunita case, should tell its own tale.

Mr. Malhotra did not agree with a questioner that evidence might have been destroyed by now as 18 days had elapsed since the positive test on Sunita Rani, for the banned substance nandrolone, was revealed. He felt that since the entire issue was to be probed and everyone concerned might have to provide the answers, there could be little fear of the truth being hidden.

He said that the larger number of medals won at Manchester and Busan had made the country happy, but the doping scandals at both the Games amounted to pouring cold water over the moment of pride the country had experienced. It was a matter of shame, he said and added that India till now had a good track record on the doping front while some other countries had fallen from grace because of their poor record. Now fingers were being pointed at our country, he said.

Mr. Malhotra said that the matter should not be allowed to be swept under the carpet through the findings of small-time enquiry committees.

The AICS Chairman also called for the setting up of an anti-doping agency, independent of the Government and the SAI, to work in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A few countries have already floated such agencies while several others are in the process of forming such bodies.

Mr. Malhotra said that such a national anti-doping agency could bring under it the dope control laboratory that is working under the SAI at the moment. He said that the SAI was itself keen that the lab was shifted out of its domain.

He said that athletes should be tested not just prior to departure for major games but also during National circuit meets. "It will involve costs, but costs should not come into the picture when national prestige is involved.''

The revived AICS, which is yet to be fully formed, will have its first meeting at the Prime Minister's residence on November 23. The meeting was expected to be attended by, among others, the Finance Minister, the Human Resource Development Minister and the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman. The next day of the meeting would continue at the Nehru Stadium.

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