In the wake of the suspension of eight prominent athletes for failing dope tests, the Sports Ministry has directed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to sack all foreign coaches attached to these players.
Addressing a press conference, Sports Minister Ajay Maken said he has asked the SAI, NADA and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for detailed reports into the circumstances leading to the positive tests.
He also said all the foreign coaches and SAI officials will be relieved from their duties immediately. The Sports Ministry’s direction means that the Ukrainian athletics coach Yuri Ogrodnik would be sacked.
“I call upon SAI to take strong measures and first sack the foreign coaches responsible for the trouble. Action should be taken immediately against Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogrodnik. “We have to assess if these foreign coaches are responsible for the entry of such substances in our country. Such substances should not be allowed to make an entry into our country,” Maken said.
The Sports Minister said it was unfair to blame athletes alone in this whole saga and the coaches responsible should be punished severely. “Most of these athletes are either illiterate or subliterate. Their coaches should clearly guide them as to what they are taking and what could be the consequences.
“The coaches have failed in their role. I am not saying they have given them the substances but even if they had not, they are squarely responsible for the current mess,” said he.
He also ordered for the constitution of an inquiry panel which would be headed by a retired High Court judge.
“I have sought a complete report from the Athletics Federation of India and am also requesting former High Court Judge Dinesh Dayal to do a thorough inquiry into the whole episode so that we can take corrective action based on the report.”
Maken suggested that the remedial measures to be taken this time around should be of long-term use for ensuring such things never ever repeat itself in Indian athletics.
“We are stepping up the facilities at NIS in Patiala and will be having three doctors including one lady doctor who will be constantly monitoring these athletes. Movements of all athletes will be closely monitored.”
Maken’s call for stringent action comes in the wake of nine athletes failing the dope test in less than a week and adding to fears that International Olympic Committee (IOC) might resort to some serious action against the IOA.
Last Monday, Gold medallists Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Panwar had failed dope tests conducted by National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), testing positive for anabolic steroid. Both of them have been suspended provisionally. Earlier, their relay race team-mate Tiana Mary Thomas had failed a dope test during the national inter-state championships in Bangalore.
CWG and Asian Games gold medallist Sini Jose had also flunked dope tests earlier along with top quartermilers Mandeep Kaur and Jauna Murmu, long jumper Hari Krishnan and shot putter Sonia.
Ashwini was held back on Monday while she was on her way to Asian Athletics Championship going to begin in Kobe, Japan on July 7.
Seven of the eight athletes have tested positive for methandienone or methandrostenolone, which is an orally-effective anabolic steroid used for muscle growth by bodybuilders. The substance is readily available in various countries without prescription but it is included in the list of prohibited substance of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
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