National Anti-Doping Agency DG Naveen Agarwal Agarwal to Indian Express about the need for anti-doping policies, challenges ahead, need to make Indian athletes aware and plans for more compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
Haryana leads the medal tally for India in most of the international events. With such a large talent pool, how do you see the importance of awareness of anti-doping policies and such workshops among the state athletes?
The workshop on anti-doping is a good initiative and we have started with Haryana and would like to take it to all the states. Because doping is becoming a major issue, a large number of such cases in the country has come up in recent times. So, we thought it is the right time that all the athletes should be made aware of the consequences of doping and the challenges ahead. Doping has been a problem in rural areas. Athletes take prohibited substances more out of ignorance. A doctor may give a medicine or a coach suggests a medicine and these things do happen. It will help players understand the concept and we have given them a list of prohibited medicines.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year, what are NADA’s plans and also any special plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
We have started testing the athletes for next year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. The Commonwealth Task Force has been created and they have already started planning the testing process. Before any national championship in every category, we will be holding an awareness seminar as well as a testing programme. We do hope that with awareness, incidence of doping will come down. Before Tokyo 2020, we will aim for the introduction of biological passport which would come in play before 2020. It would have a long-term record of the player’s history and only those with long-term clean record will benefit.
What are NADA’s plans for compliance with WADA? With India ranking third in the doping violation report by WADA for the third year in a row, how do you see India’s position?
With WADA, we are doing a compliance programme and we want 100 per cent of the WADA code. For this, we have recently tied up with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and they are also helping in complying with the code properly which means proper risk assessment and proper test planning apart from proper result management. India has always been ranked number three in annual reports and essentially, it is because we are number 2 in terms of population. The more the number of athletes, the more the number of tests are conducted. Awareness programmes like this can happen in other states and we are planning to conduct in the rest of the states and we will aim to make athletes aware.
An athlete had tested positive for the use of marijuana during the Patiala Grand Prix in May. How do you see such cases and what are your views on IAAF WADA-funded study which found that women who produce higher than normal testosterone have up to a 4.5 per cent advantage over their competition on track?
Marijuana is a narcotic psychotropic drug and unfortunately, the use of this drug among athletes and others is quite high in Punjab and Haryana. So, that case will be dealt with as per the law. CAS will take a view on the study. Indian athlete Dutee Chand was found with a high level of testosterone and after tests, it was found that it was because of natural reasons. Prohibiting a player from playing just because of natural abilities, in my personal view, is not proper to debar a person with higher physical attributes. But let’s see what CAS finally decides. Because the IAAF wants other female athletes to be able to compete as the research found that they get an advantage. But, if a natural advantage of height and other factors are considered, it can also be considered.