The Economic Times
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Doping in sports: What India can learn from Russian case

The Russian case is an opportunity for India to put its house in order. While at one level many saw it coming and were ready for it, activists and analysts have welcomed the move as a stern message to dope cheats. No country has the right to play foul and get away is the sentiment and to think that many worthy athletes had to miss out because dope cheats.

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2019, 11.52 PM IST|Original: Dec 11, 2019, 11.52 PM IST
Representative Image
By Boria Majumdar

The reaction was one of shock and awe when it was announced that 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be without Russia. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suspended Russia for four years for a systematic doping programme and attempting to destroy evidence. While at one level many saw it coming and were ready for it, activists and analysts have welcomed the move as a stern message to dope cheats. No country, however powerful, has the right to play foul and get away is the sentiment and to think that many worthy athletes had to miss out because dope cheats were winning medals does justify the harshest of punishment.

The other way to look at it is that not every Russian athlete is a dope cheat. For the worthy and the ethical, take the case of Yelena Isinbayeva for example, there should be protection and fairness of some sort. May be that’s why they have now been asked to prove their innocence and compete at the Olympics under the IOC flag. Whether or not they will be able to do so or how cumbersome the process will be is a different matter altogether. While we talk about Russia, there are many lessons for India to learn from what has happened. Wada suspended India’s National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in August this year and every sample collected by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) now is tested by another WADA accredited lab.

For the record, there are four laboratories still operating in Asia — Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Doha and it is not known which of these NADA is using at the moment.

Things at NDTL, WADA observed, were far from satisfactory and the initial ban is for a period of six being operational, the time taken to impose sanctions has grown significantly. Earlier this year, 10 of India’s top weightlifters were banned for dope violation and it isn’t the first time that such a thing has come to haunt Indian weightlifting. In fact, India is now just two sanctions away from being disqualified from participating in Tokyo with the weightlifting federation now at 18 sanctions out of a maximum 20. Other sports like Wrestling and Athletics too have been plagued by high-profile dope violations in recent times, the most talked about being the cases of Narsingh Yadav and Inderjit Singh in the run up to the Rio Olympics in 2016. The moot point is, Indian sport, or a section of our sport to be more precise, is far from ethical. There are deep-rooted problems and with time such issues run the risk of escalating into something major. While on one hand Indian sport has never been as good, on the other there are alarming questions regarding NDTL and the governance models of some Indian sports federations. It will be a pity if things aren’t sorted soon and if at some point WADA comes down heavily on India.

What is worrying in such a scenario is that all Indian Olympic athletes stand to lose out. Probably for the first time in Indian history, multiple shooters are finishing in the world’s top three; wrestlers, boxers and badminton players are in the world’s top 10 and gradually emerging as serious medal contenders for the Tokyo Games. On the other hand, India have a dysfunctional NDTL. Soon after bringing the cricketers under its ambit, a step that was looked upon and celebrated as a major victory of Olympic sport over cricket, WADA informed NADA that NDTL could no longer be used as a credible dope testing laboratory as it had resorted to unethical practices.

With 2020 Olympics just some seven months away, it is extremely discomforting that India doesn’t have a credible dope testing laboratory. Further, no one can say with certainty if the sanction on NDTL will be lifted soon. That’s what brings us back to Russia. For India, the Russian case is an opportunity to get its house in order and ensure things don’t go out of control in the near future to the detriment of its athletes. It wouldn’t be a good thing to see them compete under the IOC flag, like they had to do in the 2014 Winter Olympics when the IOA was banned on charges of corruption. India needs to protect its athletes and make sure lessons are learnt from the Russian fiasco. Tokyo 2020 could be India’s bestever Games. India shouldn’t let anything come in the way.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of

Also Read

Russia commissions intercontinental hypersonic weapon

Russia challenges WADA doping ban

Russia sends youth cadet delegation for Republic Day

‘Geriatric Powers’ maintain global status quo: Russia

Gaganyaan On, 4 IAF pilots to be trained in Russia

Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.

Other useful Links

Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service