The presence of caches of used syringes,vials and bottles of unknown substances in the Chhatrasal stadium,one of the venues of the ongoing 57th National School Games has raised fears of the possibility of athletes violating the anti-doping code.
The majority of the suspicious items were found in the toilets,hidden from view,behind the flushing units or on the ledge of ventilators. Some were found left on the floor and a couple of syringes were seen out in the open on a pile of banana skins just a few meters from where the boxing competition was being held.
The National Anti-Doping Agency,suspecting that the menace of doping had percolated to the school games had initiated testing earlier this month at this level. V Jayaraman,a senior project officer of the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA),is conducting tests at the the venue. It isnt possible to say what sort of substances these are. When you ask the players,they will say these are vitamins,or proteins but that doesnt really answer why would a school-going athlete want to inject anything into himself, Jayaraman says.
Maksud Khan,a boxing coach with the Gujarat team,first discovered these used syringes and vials. We became aware of the syringes and medicines on the first day of competition itself. Boxers are using these substances because they boost your stamina. At the end of a bout some of these boxers are not even sweating, says Khan.
The National School Games is the third event of its kind where NADA officials have been conducting tests. Earlier,they had tested players at the Kerala State School Athletics Championship,Ernakulam,and the inter- university games in Mangalore. At the on-going National School Games officials are collecting samples from boxers,wrestlers and weightlifters.
We have conducted 20 tests so far at the Chhatrasal Stadium (where boxing events are held) and another 20 at the wrestling events, says Jayaraman.
However,only a limited number of tests can be conducted at these meets in which around 7,000 athletes participate. Although we are aware that such substances are being found in the toilets,we cant do much about it. For example,how can we say to whom the substances belong. Unless we catch the player red-handed,we can only do random testing. This isnt the first time I have heard of suspicious items being found in a junior event. Hopefully,the presence of NADA officials will act as a deterrent, Jayaraman says.