Gloves Off

Olympics' war on doping raises India's hopes for silver or gold

As IOC adopts a zero-tolerance policy on cheating, there's speculation that the colour of Yogeshwar Dutt’s medal may change!

 |  Gloves Off  |  4-minute read |   04-09-2016
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) deserves to be complimented for its non-stop fight against doping.

Months before the Rio Games, the IOC had outlined in its agenda for 2020 - a strategic roadmap for the Olympic movement to provide a level playing field for all.

In simple terms, what the IOC meant was sport remains clean if it would take every possible step to catch drug cheats. The IOC puts out press releases on its website periodically. Some may be routine stuff and some like an update on events in the sporting arena.

What has now caught the attention of people around the world is how the IOC is using the latest scientific analysis to nab drug cheats. The process is very simple. The IOC has thousands of stored samples from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

The re-analysis process started earlier this year and not many would have realised what was in store for the superstars who caught the attention of the global audience with their performances.

Athletes who dazzled and won medals have been jolted by the IOC in what it has termed as “first wave and second wave". This is the name given to the operation where samples were sent to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited labs and adverse findings were reported.

Just sample this: In the first wave, the IOC selected 454 samples from the Beijing Olympics and 265 from the London Games. There were 30 adverse analytical findings (AAF) from Beijing and 23 from London.

In the second wave, 386 samples from Beijing and 138 samples from London were opened. The results were 30 AAF from Beijing and 15 from London.

Why all this is making news now at home is because the IOC has named three medallists from the London Olympics as having adverse analytical findings (AAF). Two of them are from wrestling: Late Besik Kudukhov and Toghrul Asgarov in the same weight category where Yogeshwar Dutt won bronze.

There has been all kinds of speculation that the colour of Yogeshwar’s medal can change to silver or even gold!

yog-embed_090416051233.jpg According to Wrestling Federation of India boss Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Yogeshwar Dutt’s sample from London is being tested. 

To be sure, United World Wrestling or any other body has not notified the Indian authorities about any change in the medal though rejoicing has begun at home.

There was another twist to the tale on Saturday as Wrestling Federation of India boss Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said Yogeshwar’s sample from London is being tested.

One is not sure where Bhushan got this message from. If testing medallists from the London Olympics was done at large, you could be sure the Indian’s sample would have been sent to the laboratory earlier. First reports of athletes flunking dope tests from Beijing and London came out in the third week of May 2016 from the IOC.

However, now that there is news Yogeshwar could be in the hunt for an upgraded medal, all kinds of stories are doing the rounds.

One has to look at all this in totality. The biggest positive from what the IOC is doing is that the Olympics remains clean and drug cheats are not allowed to go scotfree.

The IOC is not going to stop here. More samples from Beijing and London will be sent to the laboratories in the third and fourth waves to see if athletes cheated.

As of now, the IOC has only named three athletes from London who won medals. The numbers could go up, as 38 tested positive from 2012 and there could be more famous names on the list.

The cynical could well argue: what is the point in digging graves when the Rio Olympics are fresh in memory?

Today, technology is being used in sport at all levels. From coaches to athletes and those supervising various sports at the Olympics, everyone is using modern technology. Almost in each sport at the Rio Olympics, technology was used to get instant replays so that human errors could be corrected.

Similarly, the IOC, which is the guardian of Olympic sport, has decided to wage a war against doping in collaboration with various international sports federations and the WADA.

In the past, it was the WADA which handled dope control at the Olympics. Rio saw a huge change with the IOC directly taking charge of the dope-control process. From collection of samples to storing and sending the fluids to the labs, the IOC has taken up the challenge.

The IOC and the WADA did not seem to be on the same page before the Rio Olympics vis a vis Russian dope cheats, but the way IOC has come down on drug cheats is commendable.

The message is clear - there will be zero tolerance for doping. An athlete may have got away in the previous Olympics as a dope cheat but the process of re-analysis is a dead sure way of exposing them.

To borrow a favourite line from Bollywood movies: kanoon ke haath lambe hain (the law will eventually catch up).

Also read: Isn't it shameful that a country of 1.25bn wins only 2 medals at Olympics?

Also read: Narsingh Yadav is not the only Indian athlete who has failed a dope test

Writer

S Kannan S Kannan @kannandelhi

Sports columnist.

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