SPORTS TRIBUNE Saturday, April 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India
 

Drugs and the one who got away!
Ramu Sharma

E
ven as the unfolding drama from the drug-drenched National Games continues to fill the newspapers the world of sport has been stunned with the news that the Mister Clean of US Athletics, King Carl, had failed the dope test, not once, not twice but thrice. 

East Bengalís title win
Amardeep Bhattal
T
he second NFL title had beckoned favourites East Bengal rather early, unlike the photofinish in the previous editions but as the seventh National Football League progressed to its decisive phase, the red and gold brigade's frustrations multiplied. The smooth campaign, uninterrupted till the 17th round, suddenly seemed to go off track.

 


 
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Drugs and the one who got away!
Ramu Sharma

Even as the unfolding drama from the drug-drenched National Games continues to fill the newspapers the world of sport has been stunned with the news that the Mister Clean of US Athletics, King Carl, had failed the dope test, not once, not twice but thrice. Carl Lewis of course makes news but the fact that he was among those who had been tested positive but yet allowed to compete by the US Olympic Committee raises strong doubts about the credibility of the authorities in the USA.

The news filtered through London and the source identified was Dr Wade Exum, USOC Director of Drug Control, from 1991 to 2000. Dr Exumís findings were in the nature of more than 30,000 pages of documents to Sports Illustrated. In the magazine Dr Exus says that the documents prove that athletes such as Carl Lewis and Mary Joe Fernandez tested positive but were allowed by the US Olympic Committee anyway.

Expectedly the USOC had questioned Dr Exumís revelation, and dubbed the accusations as baseless. This was in the year 2000. At the same time it had handed over the drug-testing responsibilities to a new organisation, the US Anti-Doping Agency. But Dr Exumís revelations appear to have impressed the World Anti Doping Association (WADA). Mr Dick Pound, president of WADA has said that the documents in the Sports Illustrated reinforce what some critics believed all along.

What is really damaging is the statement of Dr Exum which says that Lewis was among those testing positive, three times for small amounts of banned stimulants found in cold medication at the 1988 Olympics trials. The US Olympic Committee first disqualified him but then accepted his appeal on the basis of inadvertent use. It is an irony that in the same year, in the Olympics at Seoul, Ben Johnson of Canada who beat Lewis in the sprint event was disqualified for using drugs. It was the biggest sensation of the Olympic Games and Johnson was stripped of his title, lost all his sponsorships and virtually had to go into hiding to avoid embarrassing questions. And it was in the same Olympics that Lewis, reinstated by default, belaboured Johnson and crowed about how clean he himself was. Not only that. He was later to make a trip to India and reportedly preach, among others, on the evils of drugs.

And the reaction from Ben Johnson is predictable. According to his manager, Johnson plans to take legal action against the US Olympic Committee. He won the race and suffered the most after testing positive. But since then, and following recent disclosures, the three athletes who finished after him ó Lewis, Linford Christie and Dennis Mitchell ó have all tested positive to drugs. But Johnson alone had to suffer alone. Linford Christie, the British athlete was under a cloud for quite some but Lewis in particular appears to have gone scot free, retired as an all-time great with all the fame and money which came his way for his stupendous efforts on the Olympic track and field.

The US Olympic Association may have successfully done a cover up job and would not mind losing face. It has happened so many times in the USA, where scandals, exposed after years, hardly affects those involved. After all it is now an old story and even if Carl Lewis and other US athletes have to give up their medals, no one can take away the tremendous amount of cash and goodwill they will have earned in all these years. And as for Ben Johnson, he may have to be satisfied seeing Lewis stripped off his medals. That is all. He may earn a lot of sympathy but not much else. After all he did test positive. His grouse is not that he was innocent but that others too were guilty which will not cut much ice.

One thing must be remembered however. Despite the glory and reverence Carl Lewis achieved, there was also a gnawing feeling that he too, like quite a few US athletes, did take drugs but was lucky that his establishment had the necessary knowledge to protect the drug users. The cardinal principle in the USA and other developed countries appears to ensure that the drug users should not be caught. There is very little done by way of stopping drug-abuse. 
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East Bengalís title win
Amardeep Bhattal

The second NFL title had beckoned favourites East Bengal rather early, unlike the photofinish in the previous editions but as the seventh National Football League progressed to its decisive phase, the red and gold brigade's frustrations multiplied. The smooth campaign, uninterrupted till the 17th round, suddenly seemed to go off track. First the defeat against JCT and then the setback against Mahindra United halted Subhas Bhowmick's squad in their tracks and brought another strong contender, Vasco SC of Goa dangerously close. But the Kolkata giants, banking on experience and enterprise, displayed resilience in ample measure to snuff out the last bit of resistance rather emphatically. The 4-0 win over Vasco at Kolkata today not only fetched them the title after one year's gap but also made them richer by Rs 40 lakh. It was just reward for the red and gold brigade's fighting spirit, with a couple of foreigners leading the charge. And prominent among them was Nigerian striker Mike Okoro, who with 17 goals, emerged as the team's leading scorer. In all, East Bengal have scored 44 goals and still have a match in hand.

Out of 21 matches that East Bengal have played, Mike Okoro scored goals in 13 encounters, including the decisive tie today. Besides scoring match winners against JCT in the third round and against ITI, Okoro also scored a hat-trick against HAL.

The Kolkata giants had last emerged champions in the fifth edition logging 46 points. Incidentally, East Bengal then had won 13 matches and had drawn seven. In the sixth edition, they ended up a poor fifth with 36 points, surrendering the top spot to arch rivals Mohun Bagan.

In the run-up to the penultimate round of the current league, East Bengal notched up as many as 15 victories, including the decisive win against Goa's Vasco Sports Club at Kolkata today.

East Bengal launched their campaign for the title with a flourish, getting past Tollygunge Agragami 2-0 in the opening round at Kolkata on November 17. Thereafter, they beat Mahindra United 1-0, JCT 1-0, Mohun Bagan 2-0, Salgaocar 2-1, HAL 5-3, ITI 3-1, Dempo 3-2, HAL 4-1, Churchill 3-1, ITI 1-0, Mohun Bagan 2-1, Tollygunge 2-0, and Indian Bank 3-0.

The red and gold brigade under the charge of former international Subhas Bhowmick suffered only two defeats in 21 rounds of the national league. Both the setbacks came in away matches. The first shock was provided by Punjab's JCT Phagwara who beat them 2-0 at Ludhiana on March 5 with goals through Jo Paul Ancheri and IM Vijayan. On April 9, Mumbai's Mahindra United shocked the visitors with an identical margin, scoring through Mongba Aby Samson and James Singh.

East Bengal also drew four matches. After being held goal-less by Goa's Churchill Brothers on December 12 on home ground in the fifth round, East Bengal played a 1-1 draw against Vasco in the sixth round at Margao on December 19. In the seventh round, Indian Bank held them to a 3-3 draw thanks to a superb hat-trick by the bank's Sri Lankan recruit Kasun Jeyasuriya at Chennai on December 23. The fourth draw came in the 14th round when playing against Dempo at Margao on February 16, the Kolkata giants split points with a 2-2 verdict with goals through Mike Okoro and Douglas.

The decisive clash with Vasco today, though perceived to be a close affair, turned out to be shockingly one sided with Douglas De Silva, Malswamtluanga and above all Mike Okoro turning the tables on the the Goan outfit. The league is scheduled to conclude on April 28 but celebrations in the East Bengal camp are perfectly in order.
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Time to check doping menace

It is a matter of grave concern and anxiety that the malaise of doping, which originated in the west, has afflicted Indian sports. That 22 athletes tested positive for banned substances during the National Games in Andhra Pradesh is testimony to it. If the full enormity of the menace is not realised and the rot is not stemmed in time, it will engulf the entire sports community of India plunging it into doom and gloom. So it is time for the All-India Council of Sports to spring into action to overcome the monster of drug abuse. The Rowing Federation of India has shown the way by imposing a life ban on Laxman Singh, a bronze medallist, who tested positive for a banned drug. The other federations should follow suit. They should take stringent and punitive measures to root out the evil of doping. The athletes should be subjected to surprise checks. The guilty must be banned for ever. They should be stripped of their medals and the cash awards given to them should be recovered.

TARSEM S. BUMRAH, Batala

Discrimination?

In the Hyderabad National Games 22 sportsmen were tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and substances. Among them, 13 are reported to be medal winners, but it is highly discriminatory on the part of the rowing federation to divulge the name of Laxman Singh of Chandigarh to the media while slapping a life ban on him. The names of other athletes had not been disclosed. Is it not unfair?

MANJEET SINGH, Garhshankar

Bathinda cricket

Bathinda, the heartland of Malwa, is developing into a big city. The city is also turning out to be an important cricket centre which is evident from the fact that a local college has won the Punjabi University Inter-College Championship more than 12 times in the past 20 years. This has been achieved by the city cricketers without a coach and a cricket stadium. The grounds of the local Government Rajindra College are used by the Bathinda Cricket Association for cricket activities. The Punjab Cricket Association should allot a Ranji match to Bathinda which will provide a big boost to young cricketers of the city.

HARJIT SINGH, Bathinda

Yuvraj Singh

Kudos to Yuvraj Singh for his maiden century in the triangular series at Dhaka. He is a young middle order batsman and a top class fielder. He has a lot of potential. Everyone enjoys his batting and fielding. He should also improve his bowling.

SANJAY KATWAL, Baroti
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