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The usage of banned substances in the competitive sports is called doping which is a term used by the organization who regulate the sporting competitions. These drugs also known as Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are used by the athletes to improve and enhance their athletic performance.

What Is The Fuss About Doping?

  • The use of the drugs namely street drugs, stimulants, anabolic steroids, peptide hormones, diuretics, beta-2 agonists, anti-estrogens, blood doping, and gene manipulation enhances performance but have harmful, long-lasting side effects and health risks.
  • Performance-enhancing drugs are considered unethicaland it goes against the spirit of sport hence is banned by most international sports organizations.
  • The athletes who indulge in the usage of banned drugs tend to interfere with the equality of opportunity available to the fellow athletes and also, they evade detection by deception and cheating.
  • When the drug is consumed by the athlete, he gets an unfair advantage over the clean athlete, thereby banning such drugs shall propagate level playing field and equality among the athletes.
  • India ranked 7th in the world in 2019 when it came to committing doping violations.

Health Risks Pertaining To Doping

  • Cardiovascular:
    Irregular heart rhythm, elevated blood pressure, heart attack, sudden death.
  • Central Nervous System:
    insomnia, anxiousness, depression, aggressive behaviour, suicide, headache, addiction with withdrawal, psychosis, tremor, dizziness, stroke
  • Respiratory:
    nose bleeds, sinusitis
  • Hormonal:
    infertility, gynecomastia (enlarged breasts), decreased testicular size, low sex drive, acromegaly (coarse bones in face, hands, and feet), cancer.


Anti Doping Organizations

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
  1. WADA is an international independent agency and the largest anti-doping organization established by the International Olympics Committee which promotes, regulates, monitors, coordinates, supervises the fight against the drugs in sports and funded by the sport movement and governments of the world
  2. The agency's key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
  3. The objective is to harmonize anti-doping regulations in all sports and countries along with prohibited substances and methods that sportspersons are not allowed to take are enlisted annually.

National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA)
  1. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is the national organisation responsible for promoting, coordinating, and monitoring the doping control program in sports in all its forms in India.
  2. As listed on its official web portal, NADA deals with adopting and implementing anti-doping rules and policies in conformation with the World Anti-Doping Agency, cooperates with other anti-doping organisations and promotes anti-doping research and education.
  3. NADA is formed by the Union Government under the societies Registration Act andit has scientists and representatives from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
  4. Its objective is not only meantfor handing down punishments to dope offenders but also to make them aware about inadvertent usage of prohibited substances.

Why Do Athletes Resort To Doping?

  • Athletes' career in India begins with winning the medals which is followed by the prize monies, fame and fortune. In the process of trying to achieve more and maintain this, many tend to fall under pressure from a variety of sources.
  • Ranging from coaches and peers, to families and fans, everybody has a role to play in pushing athletes to use banned substances in order to gain an edge over their competitors.
  • Sports federations and governing bodies at various levels often turn a blind eye when such cases appear, as better performances highlighted by these governing bodies could convert to greater funding, commercial endorsements, and investments.
  • A lack of awareness on account of the athletes, coaches, mentors, and other stakeholders is a major factor when it comes to doping especially at the grassroots.
  • The lack of proper governance mechanisms that track doping control programs in India, along with political influence, are major factors in the country's inability to deal with the doping problem.

Kiren Rijiju On Doping Scandals In India

  • Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju reiterated that India should strive to become a cleaner sporting nation not just by reporting the cheating cases but also should educate those who fail due to sheer ignorance.
  • Further, he said that there is a need to promote a culture of clean sports in India, so that the image of the country is not tarnished when athletes are caught for doping abroad.
  • It has also been reported that sometimes it so happens the sportsmen take drugs intentionally but do not know the contents of it, so awareness about being careful of the supplements shall be widespread.
  • Not only the image of the country is affected if athletes are found positive because of the usage of prohibited substances but also brings shame to the athletes and their families.
  • Over 150 athletes failed the doping tests in the year 2019 where body builders comprised of more than one-third of the total in the list. India's doping violations were (187) its own tally in 2018 (74). The biggest violators consist of athletes in the sporting disciplines of bodybuilding (70), followed by weightlifting (60), athletics (55), power lifting (40), and wrestling (20).
  • The coaches, doctors are the culprits who guide the athletes wrongly, eventually many of them ruin their careers thereby clean sports has become an absolute necessity.
  • Sunil Shetty who is the brand ambassador of NADAclaimed that the coaches at grassroots level are not trained adequately to guide children in a proper way, hence the campaign shall enlighten children on achieving success in sport through pure means.

Doping Scandals That Shook India

Athletes have been suspended by a sporting body (an international governing body, a national federation, or a professional league) for illegal performance-enhancing drug, and/or banned drug use. Publicly admitted such use. Been found to have taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs by a court of law. Been suspended by a sporting body for failure to submit to mandatory drug testing.

Following are some of the doping scandals in India:
  • Prithvi Shaw (Cricketer)
    After years of defiance, BCCI India's cricketing body finally agreed to come under the ambit of NADA which brings it under WADA also and happened due to the controversy involving Indian cricketer Prithvi Shaw failing a dope test and getting a retrospective ban resulting in the possibility of BCCI becoming a sports federation under government norms.
    In the end of September 2019, Shaw was handed an eight-month ban after it came to light, he had tested positive for terbutaline, a banned substance commonly found in cough syrups. Shaw had provided a urine sample as part of the BCCI's antidoping testing programme on February 22, 2019 in Indore.
  • Yusuf Pathan (Cricketer)
    Pathan, like Shaw, had tested positive for terbutaline during a domestic game in 2017 in Delhi. The BCCI handed him a five-month ban in January last year.
  • Sanamacha Chanu (Weightlifting)
    In September 2010, Chanu, tested positive for a banned substance, her second offence after being caught at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Another lifter, Monika Devi, India's lone weightlifting entry at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had missed the event after testing positive for an anabolic salt.
  • Narsingh Yadav (Wrestling)
    Days before heading to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, the freestyle wrestler tested positive for methandienone, a banned anabolic steroid. Yadav alleged there was a conspiracy to prevent him from having a shot at glory. He was banned for four years.
  • Renjith Maheshwary (Athletics)
    The Kerala triple-jumper was suspended for three months in 2008. His urine sample had tested positive for ephedrine and he was suspended by the Athletics Federation of India after a hearing.
  • Seema Punia (Discus Throw)
    Punia tested positive for a banned substance in 2000 and was stripped of the gold she won at a Chile event. Later tested positive for another banned substance, but was cleared of the charges by AFI.
Therefore, measures have to be taken to ensure the safety and long-term health of the sportspersons as well as participate in the sports ethically. Tackling issues at grassroot level, coaches encouraging fair play and honesty amongst the athletes, the monitoring and tackling doping by the sports federations, in addition to this the goodwill ambassadors, clean sporting icons and media can help reach the aspiring athletes and propagate healthy participation into the sports hence, achieving athletes' full potential.

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