Chaos ensued at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the final day of the Delhi State Athletics Championships.
As news began to spread among participants that officials from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) had arrived on site, participants began to flee. This came one day after a leaked video from the event showed piles of used syringes in the washroom.
The video below, taken by a coach, surfaced the day before NADA officials showed up to the event.
"Preparations" for the Delhi State Athletics meet in full swing. Video from JLN stadium that also houses the National Anti-Doping office.— Andrew (@AndrewAmsan) September 23, 2023
🎥 Clip sent by a coach. pic.twitter.com/W7RivSDJ7r
After examination of the syringes, it was clear they were primarily empty packets of Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (EPO) injections.
Sports medicine expert, Dr Chandran explains, “This is a prescription drug that is used in the treatment of anaemia. But chemists don’t care, and athletes get it over the counter. The drug boosts haemoglobin in the blood and can help endurance athletes.”
The number of participants was halved as NADA officials arrived.
Athletes stopped showing up to events, missed medal ceremonies, and one steeplechaser even continued running after crossing the line, all in an effort to evade doping control officers.
“We have eight finalists in the track events, but only three or four turned up (on Tuesday). This is the state of affairs. In the junior steeplechase event, a girl continued to run even after crossing the finish line. A doping control officer had to chase her to get her sample,” a senior coach told the press.
Most notably, Lalit Kumar toed the line as the lone participant in the senior men’s 100m final.
According to Kumar, the other seven runners told him they were experiencing muscle strains and cramps, and decided not to run the event.
Being a first-year senior at the event for the first time, Kumar spoke of disappointment when none of his competitors were at the line.
“I was really looking forward to running against the best athletes, but nobody turned up. Everyone was scared of getting tested. As an athlete, I feel very hurt and let down,”
Only one participant turned up today for the 100m finals at the Delhi State Championships, fearing dope tests. For a more detailed story read tomorrow's Express https://t.co/AimeKjmnFA pic.twitter.com/mPeAixgIlB— Andrew (@AndrewAmsan) September 26, 2023
Sunny Joshua, Delhi State Athletics Association President, explained that they were concerned about the dropout, but felt there was nothing the association could do.
He says it’s the association’s responsibility to educate athletes and coaches. Still, he says, it cannot be constantly monitoring what they do at practice, meets, or on their own away from the track.
Joshua states that doping is a major problem in athletics and that the Dehli State Athletics Association is firmly against it.
Athletics Federation of India (AFI) President Adille Sumariwalla says he is set to begin a fully-fledged inquiry into the events at the Delhi State Athletics Championships once he returns from the Asian Games.
Doping has been ever-present in India for years.
Since 2013, the country has ranked among the top seven for the number of doping violations. In 2014, 2015, and 2019, India ranked third, while in 2018 it ranked fourth.
The most recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Report released earlier this year ranked India second in the number of anti-doping rule violations. India reported 59 instances of rule violations, only behind Russia, which recorded 135 rule violations.