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AFI to introduce 'whereabouts' data to tackle doping

February 14, 2010 20:17 IST

Seeking to make track and field dope free, Athletics Federation of India on Sunday decided to prepare its own 'whereabouts' information and collect samples from suspected athletes anytime and from anywhere in the country.

The AFI also decided to take stringent action against over-aged athletes and their state associations besides also proposing to work for issuing biometric cards to deal with the problem.

On the final day of its two-day Annual General Meeting in Manesar, Haryana, the AFI decided to collect at least 100 samples out-of-competition this year and has entrusted its medical commission chairman Arun Mendiratta to work on the modalities.

"Doping is a serious issue as the Commonwealth Games is also coming. We will prepare our own 'whereabouts' information for the suspected athletes and our testing teams will go to different parts of the country to collect samples," AFI secretary Lalit Bhanot said.

"Our aim is to create fear in those who are training outside the camps and using banned substances to enhance their performances. I know in many cases the coaches are hand in glove. We don't want to have the same fate as that of weightlifting (which had to give a hefty fine to the international federation)," he added.

Bhanot said the aim is to form 10-12 teams and collect around 100 samples this year. He said the sample collection by AFI would be in addition to that done by WADA and NADA.

"Some centres, including Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, are encouraging use of banned substances. We have to stop this. AFI teams will now collect samples without informing the state units," said Bhanot.

He asked the state units to co-operate in the endeavour to fight the menace and suggested them to set up Anti-Doping Commissions with officials appointed on honorary basis.

Mendiratta said the number of athletes caught for doping has reduced from 17 in 2008 to five in 2009. Four of the five offenders last year were from All India Police Sports Board.

The AGM also took a strong view on the practise of state associations sending over-aged athletes in junior competitions and described it as a "curse in Indian athletics".

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh lead the pack of offending states in this regard while age verification could not be done in states like Delhi.

It decided to start an online entry system, besides also working on issuing of biometric cards and putting up the names of over-aged athletes on the AFI website.

"We want to stop this overage issue. Though it has reduced lately but still we are not being able to stop this as state associations themselves are hand in glove.

"In the junior nationals the total number of entries were 2000 but nearly 400 athletes did not turn up after knowing that there would be age verification," Bhanot said.

He said from now onwards, the entries would have to be provided by the state associations just one day before the competition and athletes who withdraw later would be handed the same punishment as any over-aged offender.

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