Anti-doping measures


Close on the heels of the recently concluded Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, where the Indian contingent got rapped for alleged violations of the “No Needle Policy”, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has reportedly decided to implement a similar policy. 

The reasons for the malaise are many —

  • peer pressure,
  • irresponsible advisers and fellow athletes,
  • unscrupulous coaches,
  • easy availability,
  • poorly administered federations and,
  • of course, human fallibility.

India’s Scenario and its lacuna:

  • India had dropped from third to sixth place on the recently released World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2016 List of Offenders.
  • What makes India’s position unique is that it’s too high on this list, disproportionately so to the levels of its sporting achievement.
  • Indian anti-doping rules mirror the WADA code and prescribe a framework of strict liability. For this, the athlete first needs to establish how the prohibited substance entered his/her system. In reality, it disables an athlete caught in inadvertent doping.
  • Inadvertent doping is due to contaminated or mislabelled supplements, misguided medical treatment and at worst, sabotage.
  • Harmless food supplements like proteins or vitamins used by athletes are often from unreliable sources like private shops or online purchase.
  • A recent initiative by the Foods and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to test and certify supplements is still to be fully operationalised. Ideally, the government should create a source for safe permitted supplements. It would curb accidental doping.
  • An athlete accused of inadvertent doping cannot get supplements tested for contamination, having no access to authorised laboratories.
  • The National Dope-Testing Laboratory (NDTL) is accessible only to NADA or the government.
  • Merely subjecting them to an arduous legal process before NADA is not a long-term solution.


  • The culture of casual doping amongst athletes needs to change. 
  • Any anti-doping initiative should aggressively focus not only on detection but also on education and awareness.
  • Athletes, support staff, federations, sports medical personnel must be equipped with well-conceived literature, consultation and workshops.
  • NADA’s efforts need to be supplemented by a cadre of indigenous anti-doping experts.
  • A framework must be created to constructively counsel athletes to understand the real causes, degrees of fault and administrative lapses. 
  • We must recognise the socio-cultural reality of our sportspersons.


Making doping a criminal offence, as was once proposed, is an untenable idea which would subject athletes to an already crippled criminal justice system. A nation with a burgeoning young population cannot let inertia put it on a murky sporting track.

Source:Indian Express

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