NADA to conduct dope tests at Maha Athletics meets: AFI chief

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) will be conducting dope tests during the two-day Maharashtra State Senior Athletics Championship, beginning here from Tuesday.

This was announced Sunday by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adil Sumariwalla at a media briefing here. Sumariwalla is also the president of the Maharashtra Athletics Association.

Sumariwalla also said the AFI has made it mandatory that for every state meet there will be dope testing including the ones for the juniors and the funding is being done by the centre.

“There are a couple of things happening — which is pushed by the AFI, one is that for the first-time ever there will be a dope control in a state-championship in Bombay (Mumbai). NADA has confirmed three people will be coming. This is something that the AFI has been pushing for a very long time,” Sumariwalla said.

“We have zero-tolerance to doping and we pushed government into saying that (in) every-single state meet, there should be a dope control. The problem we face is starting at an early age, junior, state and district-level. It is happening at inter-railway, inter-police and inter-Services meet. But this menace (of doping) has to stop and we are very serious about it,” he added.

Recently the Sports Ministry, on a request from the AFI had asked the NADA to conduct dope tests for all state meets.

Accordingly, NADA officials were present during the recently-held Kerala State Athletics meet to monitor the athletes.

Sumariwalla also informed that he is pushing for a legislation on “criminalisation” of doping.”

Quizzed whether the dope tests would be random, Sumariwalla said that it was within the purview of NADA and AFI cannot have a say on it.

Sumariwalla also said the AFI is putting a “lot of pressure” on NADA to give results in time.

“NADA cannot delay in giving results… like it happened in Gomathi (Marimuthu)’s case, they should have given the results, why did they not give the results and why did we take a tainted athlete to the Asian Championship, made a fool of ourselves and came back. We got one one red-tick to get banned, NADA has to answer for a lot,” he said.

Gomathi Marimuthu, who won the 800 metres gold at the Asian Championships last month, was on Tuesday handed a provisional suspension after returning positive for a banned substance.

According to Sumariwalla, the other thing that the AFI will be starting is “talent testing and talent search” at every state-meet.

“We have pushed with the government and got financing for it. Talent testing and talent search at state meets. So, at every state meet, in every single state in India, there will be people coming and do basic testing (which include) battery of tests, basis physical tests,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind it, the AFI chief said it is being done to look beyond first, second and third winners.

“….however there may be raw talent, which may not be winners because they are not trained. So that (talent testing and search) is the other thing we have done with the government and it is huge project. It will be funded by Khelo India,” explained Sumariwalla.

The AFI president also highlighted the work done by the association to create more coaches and how they are dealing with the issue of over-age athletes with introduction of bio-metrics.

The two-day Maharashtra State Senior Athletics meet will be held at the University Grounds in South Mumbai where 1,116 participants will take part, with Pune district sending the largest contingent.