All the concerned authorities should conduct dope tests during every event
The doping scandal has left the sports authorities utterly perturbed. On the one hand doping seminars are being held and on the other some top officials of federations have been reported from training camps being held at various places advising their athletes against using performance-enhancing drugs.
After talking to several affected athletes, it has been learnt that there is no proper system in the country to check the menace. One athlete told me that seminars will not do the work and it is the responsibility of the authorities to do something practical for checking this menace. One athlete said that during his entire 13-year career he did not see any responsible doctor ever coming to the training camp and asking athletes what supplements they take. He said that there is a huge gap between athletes and federation.
The athletes were unanimous on one point, saying the authorities should conduct dope tests during every event. They said by doing so athletes will be extra cautious in their approach.
I asked an affected athlete on whose advice he used steroids he replied he did that on the advice of his friend who is also a player. He said that this was the only time he did such a thing. Before that he used to use the supplements which his federation used to give him.
One athlete said that mostly the athletes are illiterate and they don't even understand what is said to them about doping during any seminar. He suggested that the authorities conduct regular tests so that the athletes are aware of the reality of the supplements they use.
Following seven kabaddi positive cases and a few cases of weightlifting, plans are being made by the top authorities on how to check doping. It has been learnt that kabaddi authorities decided to conduct tests of their players when they saw that a couple of kabaddi players died in mysterious circumstances.
Several athletes died during the last few years because of steroids.
The big issue of Pakistan is that here players mostly belong to poor strata of society and they are to earn their livelihoods through sports. They try to keep themselves fit for any event and sometimes make a big blunder as has been done by a handful of players recently. They are in search of short-cuts.
Athletes pass through three main stages during their careers and so they find different environments and different authorities which handle them. They get different treatment when they are handled by their associations. In departments they are handled differently. And there is a tougher environment when they come to the national camp. So, in all these three cordons we will need to educate our athletes properly about doping and its consequences.
The authorities will need to convince their athletes never to opt for any short-cut and only rely on their natural growth. During my interaction with one athlete who is facing sanctions it has been learnt that diet quality during national camps is too poor and so athletes get weak and need supplements. This is also a valid point and our authorities should look into this matter. Recently I was told by some athletes during training camps that they are not given milk which is very important for an athlete. I have even seen that there are different food menus for different teams despite the fact that all sit on the same dining table. We should treat all our athletes equally during national training camps. There should not be any compromise on food so that the athletes could get ample power to carry training load.
There are various factors which lead athletes towards doping scandals. It's high time the authorities took this matter extra seriously and devised a strategy to check it. The war against the menace will have to be fought by clubs, associations, departments and federations. Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), ADOP and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) will have to brace-up for the task and ensure their athletes don’t cheat in future and rely on their organic career growth.
The POA has already constituted a committee to investigate the kabaddi scandal. It will do the same in the case of weightlifting which is facing a tough time as its key players are under investigation. International Testing Agency (ITA) these years raids training camps at global level to conduct tests, especially in power sports to ensure a clean sporting environment.
Pakistan has a defective dope checking system and the authorities concerned should sit together and discuss what should be done to eradicate this menace.