1/2/14, "Banned Substances Claim an Outsize Role in Athletics in India,
" NY Times, Rebecca Byerly
"Athletes around the world have
had their careers marred by doping, but
Indian athletes, with easy access to legal steroids and limited
knowledge about their consequences, lead the world in suspensions for
performance-enhancing drug use.
Nearly 500 have tested positive for banned substances since 2009,
when India’s National Anti-Doping Agency
known as NADA, became fully functional. In 2012 alone, 178 Indians were
barred from competition. Russia has had the second-highest number of
suspensions, with more than 260 athletes barred since 2009.
the same time, Russia, with a population of 143 million, has had great
international athletic success, and India, a nation of 1.2 billion, has
underperformed. India has won only 26 medals in the 113 years it has
competed in the Olympic Games. Russia has earned 482 Olympic medals
since it began competing as the Russian Federation in the 1994 Winter
John Fahey, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said India
had come a long way in its efforts to catch up with international
standards. The increase in testing and the enforcement of WADA rules
could be one reason so many athletes are caught.
They learn to cut corners early, said Rehan Khan, a steroid supplier in New Delhi for more than 20 years.
of my biggest clients are the coaches of junior athletes,” Khan said.
“Most of my clients understand what they are buying. They know they will
get fast results, so it is worth the risks. If they don’t buy from me,
they can just as easily order the steroids online.”
salaries of coaches who train junior and national athletes are often
dependent on the performance of their charges
. Some of these coaches are
not familiar with increasingly stringent doping tests; others believe
that the drugs’ effect is worth the gamble.
it is a junior meet or university meet, you see syringes all over the
track,” said Ashwini Nachappa, a former track star who is the president
of Clean Sports India, an organization that fights corruption in
athletics. “Nobody has given it a thought. The onus lies in the training
center to start education programs and start randomly testing the kids
so that there is fear.”
A Way Out of Poverty
Indian athletes do not expect million dollar contracts or lucrative
sponsorships. Careers in medicine or engineering are more respected. Yet
for the tens of thousands who come from impoverished backgrounds
vie for positions on national teams, successful performances can ensure
that will provide financial security for them and their