|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, June 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
The girl on
preventive steps necessary
The reported move of the dope testing laboratory at the Nehru Stadium in Delhi towards aiming at a higher standardisation certificate and qualify for affiliation with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) is to be welcomed. In essence it means that the authorities have finally woken up to reality of drug abuse among Indian sportspersons and are willing to combat it in an assertive fashion. The higher rating once conferred would place the laboratory in the Nehru Stadium on par with the rest of the world.
In this context, the statement of Mr Vikram Verma, the Sports Minister, who drew comparisons of drug taking with the rest of the world virtually amounts to an exercise in minimizing the menace in India. This is the inference drawn from the statement of Mr Verma, who is quoted as saying the "doping was a worldwide menace and compared to other countries India was quite clean".
The upgrading of the dope-testing facilities to recognised international standards has been mooted more than once but somehow the matter never received serious attention. One of the arguments offered was that the standard of sports in India was still very ordinary and that the incidence of drug abuse was not that high to warrant the expenses that go to establish internationally acceptable standard of laboratory. It is an argument that may hold good in parts. But in the wake of the findings at the National Games in Hyderabad and the surfacing of drug-positive cases in the Commonwealth and other international theatres, some serious efforts are needed to halt the spread of this disease. India may not have very high standards in sport but the percentage of drug-abuse is certainly on a level comparable to any developed country.
But even as the IOA and the government set about checking the growing menace efforts must also be made to go to the root cause of drug abuse, something which at one stage was the ‘privilege’ of only the Eastern Bloc and the developed countries. While it was the projection or an advertisement of a so-called superior system that was reason for large scale drug abuse in the Eastern Bloc the main season elsewhere was essentially related to economic concerns.
The disintegration of the Eastern Bloc has resulted in the spread of any number of horror stories about the use of drugs to enhance performances in that part of the world. But the recent disclosures that even the great Carl Lewis and some other US athletes in the so-called free society were into it has come as a shock. But it was a shock only to the outside world and not certainly to the US Athletics administration and followers of the sport. Lewis and others obviously took drugs to add to their growing stature. Totally unacceptable.
It must, however, be remembered that in the case some of the drug-users in India, it is for more reasons than personal honour. It is essentially for socio-economic reasons. The incentives offered by both government and states for medal winners in India is the main reason for some of our sports persons for taking performance-inducing drugs. And the reason why so many were caught at the Hyderabad National Games was simply because of the large amounts of money that was being disbursed to medal winners.
Economic viability and a desire to live in comfort is the main reason which tempt Indian sports persons from indulging in drug abuse. Wanting to live comfortably in a home of his or her own is not a crime. And that is what exactly the states and government offer when someone does well. And mind you this drug business is not something which is new and is not something taken only for performances at national or international level. It has been prevalent for quite some time now.
Not very long ago (and perhaps the practice is still in vogue) there were disturbing rumours about drugs being used to record performances to ensure admission to colleges on the basis of sports proficiency. It is no secret that some of the colleges in Delhi used to conduct trials to test the authenticity of a candidate wanting admission on sports basis. It is the system which is wrong if one has to seek admission or a job by having to prove himself or herself on the field of sport.
The IOA and the various federations must at the same time also pay a little more attention to the inter-departmental meets where quite often medals mean promotions. And promotions mean more salary and better living. So far no tests are ever known to be conducted in meets like the all India Police, or Railway (including the zonal meets) and other such competitions.
Drug abuse in all its entirety must be
checked but till that time there is no point in looking for scapegoats.
Yes a fully equipped modern laboratory will help in catching the guilty
and may perhaps act as a deterrent but this would only catch sports
persons aspiring for national and international honours. But who is
going to check the amateur sports person whose only ambition is a small
time promotion, someone seeking admission to college or a person
desperately needing a job on the basis of his ability in sport? No
laboratory is going to help check these people.
on flying wheels
She is the girl on the flying wheels. At 17 Khushboo Saini’s hard work, dedication, discipline and coach John David’s and parents’ support placed her on the victory podium for the bronze in the 9th Asian Roller Skating Championship in Taiwan in 2001.
Her endurance put her opponents in deep freeze. She is second to none. At present she holds the record of the fastest woman skater on Indian soil as well as on foreign tracks.
She hails from Faridabad, the industrial hub of Haryana. She started skating at the age of nine in 1994. Since then she has not looked back. In the national championship she has been on the victory podium 20 times clinching the yellow metal nine times. In 1996, she participated in her first nationals in Patiala. She could not get a medal. As if to make up for the loss, she picked up three bronze the following year in Pune and three silver and two bronze medals in 1998 in Vishakhapatnam. In 1999 the national championship in roller skating was held in Chandigarh, where she won four gold medals. In the same year she participated in the eighth Asian Roller Skating Championship in China and it was her first international exposure. Later, she participated in 300 mt time trial, 1000 mt and 3000 mt and her position was 5th, 8th and 6th, respectively. In 300 mt time trial, she clocked 31.70 sec and became the fastest Indian woman on foreign tracks.
In the year 2000, she won four gold in the 38th National Roller Skating Championship in Faridabad. She broke the previous record in 300 mt time trial and clocked 32.83 sec to become the fastest Indian woman skater on home ground. In 2001 she participated in Junior World Championship in France, where the marathon race of 42 km was memorable.
"I am determined to be an Asian champion at least. What I need is more exposure at the international level and hard practice", she says.
An the calendar for competitive golf has ended, coaching clinics have begun regardless of weather conditions. If Dr Donato Di Ponziano is busy attending to needs of professional players and coaches at Jaypee Greens Golf Resort (Greater Noida), Delhi Golf Club (DGC) is organising junior training programme for budding players.
The response from youngsters — boys, girls and caddies — has been unprecedented. "We initially wanted to enroll only 200 but accepted as many as 150 entries as we did not want to deprive them of training, said Mr Ramesh Kohli, who is coordinating the programme.
The programme has been split into various sections and training is imparted twice a day. Equal emphasis is being laid on technique, style of play, physical fitness and mental sharpness. Regardless of weather conditions, trainees are enjoying.
According to Mr Kohli, there are several promising youngsters who should perform creditably in the next 2-3 years. The team of coaches is also exceedingly happy with the trainees, who are all attentive in attending the classes. There are many caddy-youngsters who have surprisingly shown more potential than other children. Golf seems to run into caddy boys veins. This is a healthy sign.
Of the six Indian champions in Indian Open in 40 years, three are caddie-turned-professionals. They are Ali Sher (1991 and 1993) , Feroz Ali (1998) and Vijay Kumar (2002). Another star, Mukesh Kumar, who comes from a humble background and humbler town, Mhow, is also making waves. Judging from their achievements maybe, the tiny tots undergoing training at the DGC will rise as champions.
The Donato training programme is being organised under the umbrella of the Indian Golf Union (IGU) which, faced by some opposition, seems to have woken up from its deep slumber. It is planning to set up a golf academy in the country. This is a very good move. It needs to be set up at a centre where youngsters can attend classes without missing their studies. Also, there is an urgent need to have a golf library. If the Royal and Ancient Club at St Andrews can have a rich collection of books, why not IGU which is totally barren in this respect.
The IGU’s own magazine "Golfingly Yours’ has been shut down. The magazine is said to have an unnatural death because of IGU’s apathy. It can be revived. It can be a very successful magazine if the IGU makes it mandatory for affiliated units to buy bulk copies. Each affiliated club can buy copies, according to strength of members. This subscription will not pinch members, if material provided in magazine is worthwhile. This should be the magazine totally devoted to Indian golf. If private publications can succeed, why not IGU’s which will have little difficulty in raising advertisements. If the IGU cannot, which body can?
About 3000 golfers of all sizes and shapes will be seen in action at 19 courses in four continents on June 16 in the charity tournament, sponsored by Christel House.
This tournament — unique in concept — is totally different from other competitions. This is for under-privileged children. The proceeds from the tournament will be utilised for the new Christel House Learning Centre in Hennur (Bangalore). The proceeds will help the centre more facilities to children. "We are trying to accommodate more children in the centre", said organisers of the tournament.
The golf gala is for the right cause,
for the right children and by the right people. Kapil Dev will be among
many to tee off in this competition. Tiger Sports Marketing’s
live-wire Brandon De Sousa says a sizable amount will be raised for this
noble cause. Brandon is a man of action and nothing is beyond him to
Pak should shun hostility
There is again talk of resuming cricket ties with Pakistan. Those making the suggestion should not forget that playing cricket for the past 50 years has failed to create any goodwill. Rather the body language of the Pakistan players in the matches against India is always aggressive, threatening, distasteful and full of hatred. So much so that former Pakistan captain Imran Khan was frank enough to admit that he took every match against India as a war. Public memory is short. We did not play cricket against South Africa for 15 years on an issue unrelated to India. Can our players concentrate amidst daily reports of massacre of the innocent, killing of security personnel and bomb explosions? And what about the safety of our players? To create goodwill, Pakistan should shun hostility and narrow-mindedness and learn to live as a genuine and friendly neighbour. Till then, any sport with Pakistan is idle talk.
Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh has become ‘Uncle Sam’ of world cricket. His team members have adopted a familiar way of exchanging verbal abuse to disturb the opposing team members. The on-field confrontations have become a regular feature of his team but, surprisingly, the match-referees appointed by the ICC have rarely acted against them. On the fourth day of the fourth Test, had it been some player from any other team in place of McGrath, he would have been banned for at least two or three one-day matches or Test matches. I assume that this is a dangerous trend in world cricket, where a world champion team sets up a bad example for the game. However, the West Indies cricket team showed great character by registering the historic win over the Aussies.
Here comes the Punjabi lad. His batting can never be bad. Every bowler forgets his line and length, when he shows his batting strength. When he hits a six, he is a Lara-Sachin mix. When he hits a four, people wave from shore to shore. He is comparable to the Taj. Yes he is Yuvraj!