Saturday, November  16, 2002
M A I N   F E A T U R E

More dope on the dope scam

K.R. Wadhwaney

SUNITA Rani, an uncut diamond of Indian athletics, has been more sinned against than knowingly sinning. She has been a victim of circumstances in the jungle raj of Indian athletics in which high and mighty officialdom rules over the innocent lives of athletes who undergo pains for social climbers to earn glory.

La affaire doping and her testing positive in both samples of A and B, the innocent athlete was provided a substance to ward off menstrual malady — an usual cycle of occurrence with women athletes — at Busan. Never known to depend upon external help to enhance her performance, she took the substance in good faith. A dedicated and devoted pupil, she merely did what would have been done by any honest athlete. No wonder she was cleared by the S.D. Salwan Commission set up to investigate the doping charges agianst her.

If there was any objectionable substance in the substance, the fault clearly rested with the athletics powers that be instead of the God-fearing performer whose religion has been running and more running for herself and for the image of the country.


Because of commercialisation of sports, drug menace has been flourishing worldwide in Olympic Games and regional international competitions. The menace has existed for more than half-a-century but it has attained scandalous proposition because of lure of money, which can corrupt any. The entire international pool of sports from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is submerged with corruption. Each vote for the IOC elections carries huge weight of a dollar or a pound sterling. The more stringent measures are taken, the more escape routes are unearthed.

In the doping scandal, the real culprits are doctors, coaches and officials of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the Amateur Athletics Federation of India (AAFI) and bigwigs of other federations. While the paper functionaries go scot free, poor athletes and weight-lifters are penalised.

In the case of Sunita Rani, she may not be totally unblemished since particles of banned substance were found in her body. But she is less guilty as the concerned doctor and coach induced her into taking it. If she deserves sympathy because of her clean and honest record, the concerned doctor and the coach should be summarily sacked for at least five years, if not for life. They are the ones who are guilty of polluting the pool of sports in the country, besieged with several other mal-practices of nepotism.

Though unrelated with doping scandal, the IOA’s issuance of nine media accreditation forms to little known sports magazine, managed by still more unknown individual, for the Busan Asian Games shows the level of corruption that exists in the apex body. While established correspondents of proven ability and record are made to toss about before providing them accreditation, here an individual was given as many as nine forms. These forms were sold at heavy prices to Punjab farmers, who were planning illegal immigration to Singapore or other countries via Busan (Korea).

Five farmers and two of their promoters were arrested by the immigration authorities before they could board the flight to Busan on September 24. All seven are on bail now while whereabouts of the remaining two forms remains unknown. These same promoters, with the complete connivance of the IOA officialdom had also succeeded in smuggling out a few persons for the Atlanta Olympic Games.

This is a much bigger scandal than Sunita Rani dope problem and it should be investigated by an independent commission unlike the one-man commission probing the doping menace. Sushil Salwan may be a knowledgeable lawyer but his findings will have a little impact since he happens to be vice-president of the AAFI. On similar kind of subject, the Supreme Court has given the ruling that the probe should necessarily be made by an independent panel.

Why has AAFI asked Salwan to undertake the probe? Is there dearth of knowledgeable person or persons in sports corridors to conduct the vital inquiry? To appoint Salwan as one-man commission is as questionable as sending Jagdish Tytler as Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent. What is his sports background? To be president of the little known national sports body is one thing but to be well versed with rules to control and manage the team of 400 plus is quite another. Not for nothing, the IOA clerks and PROs were heading the Indian march-past team when the 14th edition of the Asian Games was inaugurated.

Dr Jawaharlal Jain has categorically denied providing any pill or medicine or injection to Sunita Rani. If he is taken on his word, he is at least guilty of not knowing full details about Sunita since he was with her before, during the games and after she tested positive. He cannot say that he is not guilty. He has got to own his responsibility for his lax control. He cannot leave Sunita in lurch.

What is cause for concern is that an athlete of the calibre of Jyotirmoyee Sikdar should have been hasty in pronouncing judgment against her colleague. Winner of gold in 800 metres and 1500 metres at Bangkok Games, she should have shown restraint instead of lambasting Sunita for sullying India’s image. The investigations are in progress and there are many skeletons in cup-boards of others instead of merely of Sunita Rani.

Whatever may be said for and against Sunita Rani, the Indian athletes have performed superbly in Busan. But for athletes’ doings, the large Indian contingent would have hardly anything to show. Thanks to the AAFI president Suresh Kalmadi, athletics seems to have come of age. But India is languishing in most other disciplines. Shooters and weight-lifters flopped at Busan. The performers may be changed and chopped, the same set of office-bearers will continue.

Where was the need to send a four-member swimming team?

All participants expectedly performed poorly. The Indian swimming continues to decline. It will stay at bottom as long as it is controlled by the present set of office-bearers, who have been at the helm for decades. The IOA must realise that India’s image in international swimming will improve only when the Kalmadi and Randhir Singh team induct new team in Swimming Federation of India instead of depending upon good-for-nothing set of office-bearers for the sake of one or two rates in the four-yearly IOA elections.